READS GALAXY a
DOCTOR -LAWYER -INDIAN CHIEF!
Yes, and college professors, technicians, editors, publishers, stu-
dents, skilled workers, farmers and wonderful people just like you,
who ever you are. What’s more there have been more and more
of you every single month since we started publishing.
There is only one thing that many of you do not seem to realize.
You don’t have to go looking for GALAXY each month. You
don’t have to rush to a news stand. You can depend upon one
of Uncle Sam’s most loyal employees to bring you Galaxy . . .
your postman. (Lots of postmen get their own copies of Galaxy.)
How can all this be arranged? Easy! All you have to do is
fill in the coupon below, write out a check for only $3.50 and
mail both off today. Incidentally, you’ll be saving money because
with a subscription you will get 12 issues for the news stand price
of 10. Seems smart to do it right now.
REMEMBER: SUBSCRIBERS GET TIIEIR COPIES AT
LEAST 1 WEEK AHEAD OF THE NEWS STAND.
Galaxy Publishing Corp.
421 Hudson St.
New York 14, N. Y.
Start my subscription to GALAXY with next months issue.
I enclose (check one)
$3.50 for 1 year ...
$7.00 for 2 years
P.0. ZONE STATE
3 SCIENCE FICTION
you're that man, here’s something that will
Not a magic formula— not a get-rich-quick
scheme— but something more substantial, more
Of course, you need something more than just
the desire to be an accountant. You've got to pay
the price — be willing to study earnestly, thoroughly.
Still, wouldn’t it be worth your while to sacri-
ficc some of your leisure in favor of interesting
home study— over a comparatively brief period'
Always provided that the rewards were good — a
Salary of 54,000 to $10,000.'
\n accountants duties are interesting, varied
and of real worth to his employers. He has tanJinf,!
Do you feel that such things aren't for you'
Well, don’t be too sure. Very possibly they can be!
Why not. like so many before you. investigate
LaSalle's modern Problem Method of training for
an accountancy, position.'
Jus: suppose you were permitted to work in a
large accounting house under the personal super-
vision of an expert accountant. Suppose, with his
aid. you studied accounting principles and-solved
problems day by day— easy ones at first— then
more difficult ones. If you could do this— and
could turn to him for advice as the problems be-
came complex— ’soon you'll master them all.
That's therraining you follow in principle un-
der the LaSalle Problem Method.
You cover accountancy from the basic Prin-
ciples right Up through Accountancy Systems and
Income Tax Procedure. Then you ajd C. P. A.
Training and prepare for the C, P. A. examina-
As you go along, you absorb the principles of
Auditing, Cost Accounting, Business Law, Sta-
tistical Control, Organization, Management and
Y our progress is as speedy as you care to make
it— depending on your own eagerness to learn
and the time you spend in study.
Will recognition comei' The only answe., as
you know, is that success does come to the man
who is really trained. It’s possible your employers
will notice your improvement in a very few weeks
or months. Indeed, many LaSalle graduates have
paid for their training — with increased earnings
—before they have completed it! For accountants,
whoare trained in organization and management,
arc the executives of the future.
Write For This Free Book
For your own good, don't put off investigation
o fall the facts. Write for our free 48-page book,
"Accountancy, The Profession That Pays." It'll
prove that accountancy offers brilliant futures to
those who aren't afraid of serious home study.
Send us the coupon now.
Over 3S00 Certified Public Accountants
among LaSalle alumni
LASALLE EXTENSION UNIVERSITY
A Correspondence Institution
417 S. Dearborn Si Dept. H-20S Chicago 5, III.
1 want to be an accountant. Send me without obhga.
tion, "Accountancy, The Profession That Pays."
City, Zone 6 State .
All ORIGINAL STORIES •
by Philip K. Dick
by Richard Wilson
by James Causey
by James McConnell
by Margaret St. Clair
BOOK-LENGTH SERIAL-lnstallment 2
RING AROUND THE SUN
by Clifford D. Simak
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
by Willy Ley
by H. L. Gold
GALAXY'S FIVE STAR SHELF
by Groff Conklin
Cover by EM5H Illustrating THE DEFENDERS
ROBERT GUINN, Publisher
l. GOLD, Editor WIllY LEY, Science Editor EVELYN PAIGE, Assistant Editor
W. I. VAN DER POEL, Art Director
JOAN De MARIO, Production Manager
t.AI AW Sciemr VitH'.r, is published monthly by Galaxy Publishing Corporation. Main offices:
^P lludM,n Street. New Ymk 14, N. Y. 35c per copy Subscriptions : (■2 coP,es) J3AO per
sear in the United States, Canada. Mexico. South and Central Amcr.ca and U.S ‘
Hsrwhcre $4.30. Entered as second-class matter at the Post Office, New York, N. Y. Copyright.
hv Galaxy Publishing Corporation. Robert (.uinn, president. All riahts. induotng
trinVl ition reserved. All material submitted must be accompanied by self-addressed stamped
envelopes The publisher assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. All stories printed in
this magazine arc fiction, and any similarity between characters and actual persons is coincidental.
Printed in the U.S.A. by the Guinn Co.. Inc. U S Pa *- OH>
Y OU might say that human-
ity’s slogan is: “The obvious
we see eventually; the completely
apparent takes a little longer.”
Each of us buys his share of
plausible irrationality, provided
it’s repeated often enough to be
For centuries, as an example,
nobody thought of testing Aris-
totle’s statement that the heavier
the object, the faster it falls.
Common sense told them Aris-
totle was right. But Galileo tried
it out with vari-sized rocks from
the top of the Tower of Pisa and
found that the rate of fall is
constant, regardless of weight.
We all know now that a feather
and a lump of lead exactly match
speeds in a vacuum, but we know
it only because one man was ^illy
enough to disregard logic and try
it out in practice.
That sort of stubborn insist-
ence on challenging the obvious
is the difference between progress
and paralysis. Here are some
items that anyone with any in-
telligence at all can see are true,
but I don’t:
We're faced with inflation.
A rising cost of living, yes,
but is it inflation? The word is
flung around with no attempt to
define it. Inflation is a sudden
and disastrous gap between the
cost of living and income. If in-
come keeps pace with rising
prices, the result is a decline in
the purchasing power of money,
but it’s not inflation.
Remember Mark Twain’s A
Connecticut Yankee in King Ar-
thur’s Court? The people of that
time were astonished by the pre-
diction that wages in the 19th
Century would be as much as $5
to $10 a week, which was thou-
sands of times more than they
earned. Today’s prices and wages
would have startled Mark Twain
as much as he amazed his char-
acters. Yet he knew the economic
law behind them — regardless' of
depressions, the trend of prices
and wages is a constant incline.
It doesn’t matter whether steak
costs 10c or $1000 a pound. If
wages are $1000 a week, it won’t
stay at 10c a pound. If they're
10c an hour, $1000 a pound is
cataclysmic. But 10c an hour and
10c a pound and $1000 an hour
and $1000 a pound are equal.
So as long as prices and in-
come remain approximately pro-
portionate, inflation is no menace.
Criminals have distinct physi-
cal characteristics, and a genius
must be insane.
Both of these propositions were
offered by Cesare Lombroso, who
died in 1909, while his obviously
demonstrable — and wholly cock-
( Continued on page 95)
T AYLOR sat back in his
chair reading the morning
newspaper. The warm kit-
chen and the smell of coffee
blended with the comfort of not
having to go to work. This was
his Rest Period, the first for a
long time, and he was glad of
it. He folded the second section
back, sighing with contentment.
“What is it?” Mary said, from
“They pasted Moscow again
last night.” Taylor nodded his
head in approval. “Gave it a
real pounding. One of those R-H
bombs. It’s about time.”
He nodded again, feeling the
full comfort of the kitchen, the
presence of his plump, attractive
wife, the breakfast dishes and cof-
fee. This was relaxation. And the
war news was good, good and
satisfying. He could feel a justi-
fiable glow at the news, a sense
of pride and personal accom-
plishment. After all, he was an
integral part of the war program,
* not just another factory worker
lugging a cart of scrap, but a
technician, one of those who de-
signed and planned the nerve-
trunk of the war.
“It says they have the new
subs almost perfected. Wait until
they get those going.” He smack-
ed his lips with anticipation.
"When they start shelling from
underwater, the Soviets are sure
going to be surprised.”
has ever been frightful enough
to put a stop to war
we never before had any
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
By PHILIP K. DICK
“They’re doing a wonderful
job,” Mary agreed vaguely. “Do
you know what we saw today?
Our team is getting a leady to
show to the school children. I
saw the leady, but only for a
moment. It’s good for the child-
ren to see what their contribu-
tions are going for, don’t you
She looked around at him.
“A leady,” Taylor murmured.
He put the newspaper slowly
down. “Well, make sure it’s de-
contaminated properly. We don’t
want to take any chances.”
“Oh, they always bathe them
when they’re brought down from
the surface,” Mary said. “They
wouldn’t think of letting them
down without the bath. Would
they?” She hesitated, thinking
back. “Don, you know, it makes
me remember — ”
He nodded. “I know.”
H E knew what she was think-
ing. Once in the very first
weeks of the war, before every-
one had been evacuated from the
surface, they had seen a hospital
train discharging the wounded,
people who had been showered
with sleet, He remembered the
way they had looked, the ex-
pression on their faces, or as
much of their faces as was left.
It had not been a pleasant sight.
There had been a lot of that
at first, in the early days before
the transfer to undersurface was
complete. There had been a lot,
and it hadn’t been very difficult
to come across it.
Taylor looked up at his wife.
She was thinking too much about
it, the last few months. They all
“Forget it,” he said. “It’s all
in the past. There isn’t anybody
up there now but the leady s, and
they don’t mind.”
“But just the same, I hope
they’re careful when they let one
of them down here. If one were
still hot — ”
He laughed, pushing himself
away from the table. “Forget it.
This is a wonderful moment; I’ll
be home for the next two shifts.
Nothing to do but sit around and
take things easy. Maybe we can
take in a show. Okay?”
“A show? Do we have to? I
don’t like to look at all the de-
struction, the ruins. Sometimes I
see some place I remember, like
San Francisco. They showed a
shot of San Francisco, the bridge
broken and fallen in the water,
and I got upset. I don’t like to
“But don’t you want to know
what’s going on? No human be-
ings are getting hurt, you know.”
“But it’s so awful!” Her face
was set and strained. “Please,
Don Taylor picked up his
newspaper sullenly. “All right,
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
but there isn’t a hell of a lot else
to do. And don’t forget, their
cities are getting it even worse.”
She nodded. Taylor turned the
rough, thin sheets of newspaper.
His good mood had soured on
him. Why did she have to fret
all the time? They were pretty
well off, as things went. You
couldn’t expect to have every-
thing perfect, living undersurface,
with an artificial sun and artifi-
cial food. Naturally it was a
strain, not seeing the sky or being
able to go any place or see any-
thing other than metal walls,
great roaring factories, the plant-
yards, barracks. But it was better
than being on surface. And some
day it would end and they could
return. Nobody wanted to live
this way, but it was necessary.
He turned the page angrily and
the poor paper ripped. Damn it,
the paper was getting worse qual-
ity all the time, bad print, yel-
low tint —
Well, they needed everything
for the war program. He ought to
know that. Wasn’t he one of the
He excused himself and went
into the other room. The bed
was still unmade. They had bet-
ter get it in shape before the sev-
enth hour inspection. There was
a one unit fine —
The vidphone rang. He halted.
Who would it be? He went over
and clicked it on.
“Taylor?” the face said, form-
ing into place. It was an old face,
gray and grim. “This is Moss.
I’m sorry to bother you during
Rest Period, but this thing has
come up.” He rattled papers. “I
want you to hurry over here.”
Taylor stiffened. “What is it?
There’s no chance it could wait?”
The calm gray eyes were study-
ing him, expressionless, unjudg-
ing. “If you want me to come
down to the lab,” Taylor grum-
bled, “I suppose I can. I’ll get my
uniform — ”
“No. Come as you are. And not
to the lab. Meet me at second
stage as soon as possible. It’ll
take you about a half hour, using
the fast car up. I’ll see you there.”
The picture broke and Moss
W HAT was it?” Mary said,
at the door.
“Moss. He wants me for some-
“I knew this would happen.”
“Well, you didn’t want to, do
anything, anyhow. What does it
matter?” His voice was bitter.
“It’s all the same, every day.
I’ll bring you back something.
I’m going up to second stage.
Maybe I’ll be close enough to the
“Don’t! Don’t bring me any-
thing! Not from the surface!”
“All right, I won’t. But of all
the irrational nonsense — ”
She watched him put on his
boots without answering.
"jl^OSS nodded and Taylor fell
in step with him, as the
older man strode along. A series
of loads were going up to the
surface, blind cars clanking like
ore-trucks up the ramp, disap-
pearing through the stage trap
above them. Taylor watched the
cars, heavy with tubular machin-
ery of some sort, weapons new
to him.- Workers were every-
where, in the dark gray uniforms
of the labor corps, loading, lift-
ing, shouting back and forth. The
stage was deafening with noise.
“We’ll go up a way,” Moss
said, “where we can talk. This
is no place to give you details.”
They took an escalator up. The
commercial lift fell behind them,
and with it most of the crashing
and booming. Soon they emerged
on an observation platform, sus-
pended on the side of the Tube,
the vast tunnel leading to the
surface, not more than half a
mile above them now.
“My God!” Taylor said, look-
ing down the Tube involuntarily.
“It’s a long way down.”
Moss laughed. “Don’t look.”
They opened a door and en-
tered an office. Behind the desk,
an officer was sitting, an officer
of Internal Security. He looked
“I’ll be right with you, Moss.”
He gazed at Taylor studying him.
“You’re a little ahead of time.”
“This is Commander Franks,”
Moss said to Taylor. “He was
the first to make the discovery.
I was notified last night.” He
tapped a parcel he carried. “I
was let in because of this.”
Franks frowned at him and
stood up. “We’re going up to
first stage. We can discuss it
“First stage?” Taylor repeated
nervously. The three of them
went down a side passage to a
small lift. “I’ve never been up
there. Is it all right? It’s not
radioactive, is it?”
“You’re like everyone else,”
Franks said. “Old women afraid
of burglars. No radiation leaks
down to first stage. There’s lead
and rock, and what comes down
the Tube is bathed.”
“What’s the nature of the prob-
lem?” Taylor asked. “I’d like to
know something about it.”
“In a moment.”
They entered the lift and as-
cended. When they stepped out,
they were in a hall of soldiers,
weapons and uniforms every-
where. Taylor blinked in sur-
prise. So this was first stage, the
closest undersurface level to the
top! After this stage there was
only rock, lead and rock, and
the great tubes leading up like
the burrows of earthworms. Lead
and rock, and above that, where
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
the tubes opened, the great ex-
panse that no living being had
seen for eight years, the vast,
endless ruin that had once been
Man’s home, the place where he
had lived, eight years ago.
Now the surface was a lethal
desert of slag and rolling clouds.
Endless clouds drifted back and
forth, blotting out the red Sun.
Occasionally something metallic
stirred, moving through the re-
mains of a city, threading its way
across the tortured terrain of
the countryside. A leady, a sur-
face robot, immune to radiation,
constructed with feverish haste
in the last months before the cold
war became literally hot.
Leadys, crawling along the
ground, moving over the oceans
or through the skies in slender,
blackened craft, creatures that
could exist where no life could
remain, metal and plastic figures
that waged a war Man had con-
ceived, but which he could not
fight himself. Human beings had
invented war, invented and man-
ufactured the weapons, even in-
vented the players, the fighters,
the actors of the war. But they
themselves could not venture
forth, could not wage it them-
selves. In all the world — in
Russia, in Europe, America,
Africa — no living human being
remained. They were under the
surface, in the deep shelters that
had been carefully planned and
built, even as the first bombs
began to fall.
It was a brilliant idea and the
only idea that could have worked.
Up above, on the ruined, blasted
surface of what had once been a
living planet, the leady crawled
and scurried, and fought Man’s
war. And undersurface, in the
depths of the planet, human
beings toiled endlessly to produce
the weapons to continue the
fight, month by month, year by
F IRST stage," Taylor said. A
strange ache went through
him. “Almost to the surface.”
“But not quite,” Moss said.
Franks led them through the
soldiers, over to one side, near the
lip of the Tube.
“In a few minutes, a lift will
bring something down to us from
the surface,” he explained. “You
see, Taylor, every once in a
while Security examines and in-
terrogates a surface leady, one
that has been above for a time,
to find out certain things. A vid-
call is sent up and contact is
made with a field headquarters.
We need this direct interview;
we can’t depend on vidscreen
contact alone. The leadys are do-
ing a good job, but we want to
make certain that everything is
going the way we want it.”
Franks faced Taylor and Moss
and continued: “The lift will
bring down a leady from the
surface, one of the A-class leadys.
There’s an examination chamber
in the next room, with a lead wall
in the center, so the interviewing
officers won’t be exposed to radia-
tion. We find this easier than
bathing the leady.. It is going
right back up; it has a job to
get back to.
“Two days ago, an A-class
leady was brought down and in-
terrogated. I conducted the ses-
sion hiyself. We were interested
in a new weapon the • Soviets
have been using, an automatic
mine that pursues anything that
moves. Military had sent instruc-
tions up that the mine be observ-
ed and reported in detail.
“This A-class leady was
brought down with information.
We learned a few facts from it,
obtained the usual roll of film
and reports, and then sent it back
up. It was going out of the cham-
ber, back to the lift, when a cur-
ious thing happened. At the time,
I thought — ”
Franks broke off. A red light
“That down lift is coming.” He
nodded to some soldiers. “Let’s
enter the chamber. The leady will
be along in a moment.”
“An A-class leady,” Taylor
said. “I’ve seen them on the
showscreens, making their re-
“It’s quite an experience,”
Moss said. “They’re almost hu-
T HEY entered the chamber
and seated themselves behind
the lead wall. After a time, a
signal was flashed, and Franks
made a motion with his hands.
The door beyond the wall
opened. Taylor peered through
his view slot. He saw something
advancing slowly, a slender me-
tallic figure moving on a tread,
its arm grips at rest by its sides.
The figure halted and scanned
the lead wall. It stood, waiting.
“We are interested in learning
something,” Franks said. “Before
I question you, do you have any-
thing to report on surface condi-
“No. The war continues.” The
leady’s voice was automatic and
toneless. “We are a little short
of fast pursuit craft, the single-
seat type. We could use also
some — ”
“That has all been noted. What
I want to ask you is this. Our
contact with you has been
through vidscreen only. We must
rely on indirect evidence, since
none of us goes above. We can
only infer what is going on. We
never see anything ourselves. We
have to take it all secondhand.
Some top leaders are beginning to
think there’s too much room for
“Error?” the leady asked. “In
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
what way? Our reports are
checked carefully before they’re
sent down. We niaintain constant
contact with you; everything of
value is reported. Any new weap-
ons which the enemy is seen to
employ — ”
“I realize that,” Franks grunt-
ed behind his peep slot. “But
perhaps we should see it all for
ourselves. Is it possible that there
might be a large enough radia-
tion-free area for a human party
to ascend to the surface? If a few
of us were to come up in lead-
lined suits, would we be able to
survive long enough to observe
conditions and watch things?”
The machine hesitated before
answering. “I doubt it. You can
check air samples, of course, and
decide for yourselves. But in the
eight years since you left, things
have continually worsened. You
cannot have any real idea of con-
ditions up there. It has become
difficult for any moving object
to survive for long. There are
many kinds of projectiles sensi-
tive to movement. The new mine
not only reacts to motion, but
continues to pursue the object
indefinitely, until it finally
reaches it. And the radiation is
“I see.” Franks turned to Moss,
his eyes narrowed oddly. “Well,
that was what I wanted to know.
You may go.”
The machine moved back to-
ward its exit. It paused. “Each
month the amount of lethal par-
ticles in the atmosphere increases.
The tempo of the war is gradu-
ally — ”
“I understand.” Franks rose.
He held out his hand and Moss
passed him the package. “One
thing before you leave. I want
you to examine a new type of
metal shield material. I’ll ' pass
you a sample with the tong.”
Franks put the package in the
toothed grip and revolved the
tong so that he held the other
end. The package swung down to
the leady, which took it. They
watched it unwrap the package
and take the metal plate in its
hands. The leady turned the
metal over and over.
Suddenly it became rigid.
“All right,” Franks said.
He put his shoulder against the
wall and a section slid aside.
Taylor gasped — Franks and Moss
were hurrying up to the leady!
“Good God!” Taylor said. “But
T HE leady stood unmoving,
still holding the metal. Sol-
diers appeared in the chamber.
They surrounded the leady and
ran a counter across it carefully.
“Okay, sir,” one of them said
to Franks. “It’s as cold as a
long winter evening.”
“Good. I was sure, but I didn’t
want to take any chances.”
“You see,” Moss said to Tay-
lor, “this leady isn’t hot at all.
Yet it came directly from the
surface, without even being
“But what does it mean?”
Taylor asked blankly.
“It may be an accident,”
Franks said. “There’s always the
possibility that a given object
might escape being exposed
above. But this is the second
time it’s happened that we know
of. There may be others.”
“The second time?”
“The previous interview was
when we noticed it. The leady
was not hot. It was cold, too,
like this one.”
Moss took back the metal plate
from the leady’s hands. He pres-
sed the surface carefully and re-
turned it to the stiff, unprotesting
“We shorted it out with this,
so we could get close enough for
a thorough check. It’ll come back
on in a second now. We had
better get behind the wall again.”
They walked back and the lead
wall swung closed behind them.
The soldiers left the chamber.
“Two periods from now,”
Franks said softly, “an initial in-
vestigating party will be ready to
go surface-side. We’re going up
the Tube in suits, up to the
top— the first human party to
leave undersurface in eight
“It may mean nothing,” Moss
said, “but I doubt it. Something’s
going on, something strange. The
leady told us no life could exist
above without being roasted. The
story doesn’t fit.”
Taylor nodded. He stared
through the peep slot at the im-
mobile metal figure. Already the
leady was beginning to stir. It
was bent in several places, dented
and twisted, and its finish was
blackened and charred. It was a
leady that had been up there a
long time; it had seen war and
destruction, ruin so vast that no
human being could imagine the
extent. It had crawled and slunk
in a world of radiation and death,
a world where no life could exist.
And Taylor had touched it!
“You’re going with us,” Franks
said suddenly. “I want you along.
I think the three of us will go.”
M ARY faced him with a sick
and frightened expression.
“I know it. You’re going to the
surface. Aren’t you?”
She followed him into the kit-
chen. Taylor sat down, looking
away from her.
“It’s a classified project,’ 7 he
evaded. “I can’t tell you anything
“You don’t have to tell me. I
know. I knew it the moment you
came in. There was something on
your face, something I haven’t
seen there for a long, long time.
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
It was an old look.”
She came toward him. “But
how can they send you to the
surface?” She took his face in
her shaking hands, making him
look at her. There was a strange
hunger in her eyes. “Nobody can
live up there. Look, look at
She grabbed up a newspaper
and held it in front of him.
“Look at this photograph.
America, Europe, Asia, Africa —
nothing but ruins. We’ve seen it
every day on the showscreens.
All destroyed, poisoned. And
they’re sending you up. Why?
No living thing can get by up
there, not even a weed, or grass.
They’ve wrecked the surface,
haven’t they? Haven't they?"
Taylor stood up. “It’s an order.
I know nothing about it. I was
told to report to join a scout
party. That’s all I know.”
He stood for a long time, star-
ing ahead. Slowly, he reached for
the newspaper and held it up to
“It looks real,” he murmured.
“Ruins, deadness, slag. It’s con-
vincing. All the reports, photo-
graphs, films, even air samples.
Yet we haven’t seen it for our-
selves, not after the first
months . . .”
"What are you talking about?”
“Nothing.” He put the paper
down. “I’m leaving early after the
next Sleep Period. Let’s turn in.”
Mary turned away, her face
hard and harsh. “Do what you
want. We might just as well all
go up and get killed at once, in-
stead of dying slowly down here,
like vermin in the ground.”
He had not realized how re-
sentful she was. Were they all
like that? How about the work-
ers toiling in the factories, day
and night, endlessly? The pale,
stooped men and women, plod-
ding back and forth to work,
blinking in the colorless' ,l light,
eating synthetics —
“You shouldn’t be so bitter,”
Mary smiled a little. “I’m bit-
ter because I know you’ll never
come back.” She turned away.
“I’ll never see you again, once
you go up there.”
He was shocked. “What? How
can you say a thing like that?”
She did not answer.
H E awakened with the public
newscaster screeching in his
ears, shouting outside the build-
“Special news bulletin! Surface
forces report enormous Soviets
attack with new weapons! Re-
treat of key groups! All work
units report to factories at once!”
Taylor blinked, rubbing his
eyes. He jumped out of bed and
hurried to the vidphone. A mo-
ment later he was put through
“Listen,” he said. “What about
this new attack? Is the project
off?” He could see Moss’s desk,
covered with reports and papers.
“No,” Moss said. “We’re going
right ahead. Get over here at
“But — ”
“Don’t argue with me.” Moss
held up a handful of surface
bulletins, crumpling them sav-
agely. “This is a fake. Come on!”
He broke off.
Taylbf dressed furiously, his
mind in a daze.
Half an hour later, he leaped
from a fast car and hurried up
the stairs into the Synthetics
Building. The corridors were full
of men and women rushing in
every direction. He entered
“There you are,” Moss said,
getting up immediately, “Franks
is waiting for us at the outgoing
They went in a Security Car,
the siren screaming. Workers
scattered out of their way.
“What about the attack?” Tay-
Moss braced his shoulders.
“We’re certain that we’ve forced
their hand. We’ve brought the
issue to a head.”
They pulled up at the station
link of the Tube and leaped out.
A moment later they were mov-
ing up at high speed toward the
They emerged into a bewilder-
ing scene of activity. Soldiers
were fastening on lead suits,
talking excitedly to each other,
shouting back and forth. Guns
were being given out, instructions
Taylor studied one of the sol-
diets. He was armed with the
dreaded Bender pistol, the new
snub-nosed hand weapon that
was just beginning to come from
the assembly line. Some of the
soldiers looked a little frightened.
“I hope we’re not making a
mistake,” Moss said, noticing his
Franks came toward them.
“Here’s the program. The three
of us are going up first, alone.
The soldiers will follow in fifteen
“What are we going to tell the
leadys?” Taylor worriedly asked.
“We’ll have to tell them some-
“We want to observe the new
Soviet attack.” Franks smiled
ironically. “Since it seems to be
so serious, we should be there in
person to witness it.”
“And then what?” Taylor said.
“That’ll be up to them. Let’s
TN a small car, they went swift-
ly up the Tube, carried by
anti-grav beams from below.
Taylor glanced down from time
to time. It was a long way back,
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
and getting longer each moment.
He sweated nervously inside his
suit, gripping his Bender pistol
with inexpert fingers.
Why had they chosen him?
Chance, pure chance. Moss had
asked him to come along as a
Department member. Then
Franks had picked him out on
the spur of the moment. And now
they were rushing toward the
surface, faster and faster.
A deep fear, instilled in him
for eight years, throbbed in his
mind. Radiation, certain death,
a world blasted and lethal —
Up and up the car went. Tay-
lor gripped the sides and closed
his eyes. Each moment they were
closer, the first living creatures
to go above the first stage, up
the Tube past the lead and rock,
up to the surface. The phobic
horror shook him in waves. It
was death; they all knew that.
Hadn’t they seen it in the films
a thousand times? The cities, the
sleet coming down, the rolling
“It won’t be much longer,”
Franks said. "We’re almost there.
The surface tower is not expect-
ing us. I gave orders that no sig-
nal was to be sent.”
The car shot up, rushing furi-
ously. Taylor’s head spun; he
hung on, his eyes shut. Up and
up. . . .
The car stopped. He opened
They were in a vast room,
fluorescent-lit, a cavern filled with
equipment and machinery, end-
less mounds of material piled in
row after row. Among the stacks,
leadys were working silently,
pushing trucks and handcarts.
“Leadys,” Moss said. His face
was pale. “Then we’re really on
The leadys were going back
and forth with equipment moving
the vast stores of guns and spare
parts, ammunition and supplies
that had been brought to the
surface. And this was the re-
ceiving station for only one Tube;
there were many others, scattered
throughout the continent.
T aylor looked nervously
around him. They were really
there, above ground, on the sur-
face. This was where the, war
“Come on,” Franks said. “A
B-class guard is coming our
TPHEY stepped out of the car.
A leady was approaching
them rapidly. It coasted up in
front of them and stopped scan-
ning them with its hand-weapon
“This is Security ” Franks said.
“Have an A-class sent to me at
The leady hesitated. Other B-
class guards were coming, scoot-
ing across the floor, alert and
alarmed. Moss peered around.
“Obey!” Franks said in a loud,
commanding voice. “You’ve been
The leady moved uncertainly
away from them. At the end of
the building, a door slid back.
Two Class- A leadys appeared,
coming slowly toward them.
Each had a green stripe across its
“From the Surface Council,”
Franks whispered tensely. “This
is above ground, all right. Get
The two leadys approached
warily. Without speaking, they
stopped close by the men, look-
ing them up and down.
“I’m Franks of Security. We
came from undersurface in order
to — ”
“This in incredible,” one leadys
interrupted him coldly. “You
know you can’t live up here. The
whole surface is lethal to you.
You can’t possibly remain on the
“These suits will protect us,”
Franks said. “In any case, it’s
not your responsibility. What I
want is an immediate Council
meeting so I can acquaint myself
with conditions, with the situa-
tion here. Can that be arranged?”
“You human beings can’t sur-
vive up he're. And the new Soviet
attack is directed at this area.
It is in considerable danger.”
“We know that. Please assem-
ble the Council.” Franks looked
around him at the vast room, lit
by recessed lamps in the ceiling.
An uncertain quality came into
his voice. “Is it night or day
“Night,” one of the A-class
leadys said, after a pause. “Dawn
is coming in about two hours.”
Franks nodded. “We’ll remain
at least two hours, then. As a
concession to our sentimentality,
would you please show us some
place where we can observe the
Sun as it comes up? We would
A stir went through the leadys.
“It is an unpleasant sight,” one
of the leadys said. “You’ve seen
the photographs; you know what
you’ll witness. Clouds of drifting
particles blot out the light, slag
heaps are everywhere, the whole
land is destroyed. For you it will
be a staggering sight, much
worse than pictures and film can
“However it may be, we’ll stay
long enough to see it. Will you
give the order to the Council?”
C OME this way.” Reluctantly,
the two leadys coasted to-
ward the wall of the warehouse.
The three men trudged after
them, their heavy shoes ringing
against the concrete. At the wall,
the two leadys paused.
“This is the entrance to the
Council Chamber. There are
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
windows in the Chamber Room,
but it is still dark outside, of
course. You’ll see nothing right
now, but in two hours — ”
“Open the door,” Franks said.
The door slid back. They went
slowly inside. The room was
small, a neat room with a round
table in the center, chairs ringing
it. The three of them sat down
silently, and the two leadys fol-
lowed after them, taking their
“The other Council Members
are on their way. They have al-
ready been notified and are com-
ing as quickly as they can. Again
I urge you to go back down.”
The leady surveyed the three
human beings. “There is no way
you can meet the conditions up
here. Even we survive with some
trouble, ourselves. How can you
expect to do it?”
The leader approached Frarflcs.
“This astonishes and perplexes
us.” it said. “Of course we must
do what you tell us, but allow
me to point out that if you re-
main here — ”
“We know,” Franks said im-
patiently. “However, we intend to
remain, at least until sunrise.”
“If you insist.”
There was silence. The leadys
seemed to be conferring with
each other, although the three
men heard no sound.
“For your own good,” the lead-
er said at last, “you must go back
down. We have discussed this,
and it seems to us that you are
doing the wrong thing for your
“We are human beings,” Franks
said sharply. “Don’t you under-
stand? We’re men, not machines.”
“That is precisely why you
must go back. This room is ra-
dioactive; all surface areas are.
We calculate that your suits will
not protect you for over fifty
more minutes. Therefore — ”
The leadys moved abruptly to-
ward the men, wheeling in a cir-
cle, forming a solid row. The men
stood up, Taylor reaching awk-
wardly for his weapon, his fingers
numb and stupid. The men stood
facing the silent metal figures.
“We must insist,” the leader
said, its voice without emotion.
“We must take you back to the
Tube and send you down on the
next car. I am sorry, but it is
“What’ll we do?” Moss said
nervously to Franks. He touched
his gun. “Shall we blast them?”
Franks shook his head. “All
right,” he said to the leader.
“We’ll go back.”
H E moved toward the door,
motioning Taylor and Moss
to follow him. They looked at
him in surprise, but they came
with him. The leadys followed
them out into the great ware-
house. Slowly they moved toward
the Tube entrance, none of them
At the lip, Franks turned. “We
are going back because we have
no choice. There arc three of us
and about a dozen of you. How-
ever, if — ”
“Here comes the car,” Taylor
There was a grating sound
from the Tube. D-class leadys
moved toward the edge to receive
“I am sorry,” the leader said,
“but it is for your protection. We
are watching over'^you, literally.
You must stay below and let us
conduct the war. In a sense, it
has come to be our war. We must
fight it as we see fit.”
The car rose to the surface.
Twelve soldiers, armed with
Bender pistols, stepped from it
and surrounded the three men.
Moss breathed a sigh of relief.
“Well, this does change things. It
came off just right.”
The leader moved back, away
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
from the soldiers. It studied them
intently, glancing from one to
the next, apparently trying to
make up its mind. At last it
made a sign to the other leadys.
They coasted aside and a' cor-
ridor was opened up toward the
“Even now,” the leader said,
“we could send you back by
force. But it is evident that this
is not really an observation party
at all. These soldiers show that
you have much more in mind;
this was all carefully prepared.”
“Very carefully,” Franks said.
They closed in.
“How much more, we can only
guess. I must admit that we were
taken unprepared. We failed bit-
terly to meet the situation. Now
force would be absurd, because
neither side can afford to injure
the other; we, because of the re-
strictions placed on us regarding
human life, you because the war
demands — ”
The soldiers fired, quick and
in fright. Moss dropped to one
knee, firing up. The leader dis-
solved in a clou4 of particles. On
all sides D- and B-class leadys
were rushing up, some with weap-
ons, some with metal slats. The
room was in confusion. Off in,
the distance a siren was scream-
ing. Franks and Taylor were cut
off from the others, separated
from the soldiers by a wall of
“They can’t fire back,” Franks
said calmly. “This is another
bluff. They’ve tried to bluff us all
the way-” He fired into the face
of a leady. The leady dissolved.
“They can only try to frighten
us. Remember that.”
T HEY went on firing and leady
after leady vanished. The
room reeked with the smell of
burning metal, the stink of fused
plastic and steel. Taylor had been
knocked down. He was struggling
to find his gun, reaching wildly
among metal legs, groping fran-
tically to find it. His fingers
strained, a handle swam in front
of him. Suddenly something came
down on his arm, a metal foot.
He cried out.
Then it was over. The leadys
were moving away, gathering to-
gether off to one side. Only four
of the Surface Council remained.
The others were radioactive par-
ticles in the air. D-class leadys
were already restoring order,
gathering up partly destroyed
metal figures and bits and remov-
Franks breathed a shuddering
“All right,” he said. “You can
take *us back to the windows. It
won’t be long now.”
The leadys separated, and the
human group, Moss and Franks
and Taylor and the soldiers,
walked slowly across the room,
toward the door. They entered
the Council Chamber. Already a
faint touch of gray mitigated the
blackness of the windows.
"Take us outside,” Franks said
impatiently. “We’ll see it directly,
not in here.”
A door slid open. A chill blast
of cold morning air rushed in,
chilling them even through their
lead suits. The men glanced at
each other uneasily.
“Come on,” Franks said. "Out-
He walked out through the
door, the others following him.
They were on a hill, overlook-
ing the vast bowl of a valley.
Dimly, against the graying sky,
the outline of mountains were
forming, becoming tangible.
“It’ll be bright enough to see
in a few minutes,” Moss said. He
shuddered as a chilling wind
caught him and moved around
him. “It’s worth it, really worth
it, to see this again after eight
years. Even if it’s the last thing
we see — ”
“Watch,” Franks snapped.
They obeyed, silent and sub-
dued. The sky was clearing,
brightening each moment. Some
place far off, echoing across the
valley, a rooster crowed.
“A chicken!” Taylor murmur-
ed. “Did you hear?”
Behind them, the leadys had
come out and were standing si-
lently, watching, too. The gray
sky turned to white and the hills
appeared more clearly. Light
spread across the valley floor,
moving toward them.
“God in heaven!” Franks ex-
Trees, trees and forests. A val-
ley of plants and trees, with a
few roads winding among them.
Farmhouses. A windmill. A bam,
far down below them.
“Look!” Moss whispered.
Color came into the sky. The
Sun was approaching. Birds be-
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
gan to sing. Not far from where
they stood, the leaves of a tree
danced in the wind.
Franks turned to the row of
leadys behind them.
“Eight years. We were tricked.
There was no war. As soon as we
left the surface — ”
“Yes,” an A-class leady ad-
mitted. “As soon as you left, the
war ceased. You’re right, it was
a hoax. You worked hard under-
surface, sending up guns and
weapons, and we destroyed them
as fast as they came up.”
“But why?” Taylor asked,
dazed. He stared down at the
vast valley below. “Why?”
“V7"OU created us,” the leady
said, “to pursue the war for
you, while you human beings
went below the ground in order
to survive. But before we could
continue the war, it was necessary
to analyze it to determine what
its purpose was. We did this, and
we found that it had no purpose,
except, perhaps, in terms of hu-
man needs. Even this was ques-
“We investigated further. We
found that human cultures pass
through phases, each culture in
its own time. As the culture ages
and begins to lose its objectives,
conflict arises within it between
those who wish to cast it off and
set up a new culture-pattern,
and those who wish to retain the
old with as little change as pos-
“At this point, a great danger
appears. The conflict within
threatens to engulf the society in
self-war, group against group.
The vital traditions may be lost
— not merely altered or reformed,
but completely destroyed in this
period of chaos and anarchy. We
have found many such examples
in the history of mankind.”
“It is necessary for this hatred
within the culture to be directed
outward, toward an external
group, so that the culture itself
may survive its crisis. War is the
result. War, to a logical mind, is
absurd. But in terms of human
needs, it plays a vital role. And
it will continue to until Man has
grown up enough so that no
hatred lies within him.”
Taylor was listening intently.
“Do you think this time will
“Of course. It has almost ar-
rived now. This is the last war.
Man is almost united into one
final culture — a world culture. At
this point he stands continent
against continent, one half of the
world against the other half. Only
a single step remains, the jump to
a unified culture. Man has climb-
ed slowly upward, tending always
toward unification of his culture.
It will not be long —
“But it has not come yet, and
so the war had to go on, to satis-
fy the last violent surge of hatred
that Man felt. Eight years have
passed since the war began. In
these eight years, we have ob-
served and noted important
changes going on in the minds
of men. Fatigue and disinterest,
we have seen, are gradually tak-
ing the place of hatred and fear.
The hatred is being exhausted
gradually, over a period of time.
But for the present, the hoax
must go* on, at least for a while
longer. You are not ready to
learn the truth. You would want
to continue the war.”
“But how did you manage it?”
Moss asked. “All the photo-
graphs, the samples, the damaged
equipment — ”
“Come over here.” The leady
directed them toward a long, low
building. “Work goes on con-
stantly, whole staffs laboring to
maintain a coherent and con-
vincing picture of a global war.”
rpHEY entered the building.
Leadys were working every-
where, poring over tables and
“Examine this project here,”
the A-class leady said. Two lea-
dys were carefully photographing
something, an elaborate model
on a table top. “It is a good ex-
The men grouped around, try-
ing to see. It was a model of a
Taylor studied it in silence for
a long time. At last he looked up.
“It’s San Francisco,” he said in
a low voice. “This is a model of
San Francisco, destroyed. I saw
this on the vidscreen, piped down
to us. The bridges were hit — ”
“Yes, notice the bridges.” The
leady traced the ruined span with
his metal finger, a tiny spider-
web, almost invisible. “You have
no doubt seen photographs of
this many times, and of the other
tables in this building.
“San Francisco itself is com-
pletely intact. We restored it
soon after you left, rebuilding 1 fit
parts that had been damaged at
the start of the war. The work of
manufacturing news goes , on all
the time in this particular build-
ing. We are very careful to see
that each part fits in with all the
other parts. Much time and effort
are devoted to it.”
Franks touched one of the tiny
model buildings, lying half in
ruins. “So this is what you spend
your time doing — making model
cities and then blasting them.”
“No, we do much more. We
are caretakers, watching over the
whole world. The owners have
left for a time, and we must see
that the cities are kept clean, that
decay is prevented, that every-
thing is kept oiled and in running
condition. The gardens, the
streets, the water mains, every-
thing must be maintained as it
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
was eight years ago, so that when
the owners return, they will not
be displeased. We want to be
sure that they will be completely
Franks tapped Moss on the
“Come over here,” he said in a
low voice. “I want to talk to
He led Moss and Taylor out of
the building, away from the lea-
dys, outside on the hillside. The
soldiers followed them. The Sun
was up and the sky was turning
blue. The air smelled sweet and
good, the smell of growing things.
Taylor removed his helmet and
took a deep breath.
“I haven’t smelled that smell
for a long time,” he said.
“Listen, ’’ Franks said, his voice
low and hard. “We must get back
down at once. There’s a lot to get
started on. All this can be turned
to our advantage.”
“What do you mean?” Moss
“It’s a certainty that the So-
viets have been tricked, too, the
same as us. But we have found
out. That gives us an edge over
‘T see.” Moss nodded. “We
know, but they don’t. Their Sur-
face Council has sold out, the
same as ours. It works against
them the same way. But if we
could — ”
“With a hundred top-level
men, we could take over again,
restore things as they should be!
It would be easy!”
M OSS touched him on the arm.
An A-class leady was com-
ing from the building toward
“We’ve seen enough,” Franks
said, raising his voice. “All this
is very serious. It must be report-
ed below and a study made to de-
termine our policy.”
The leady said nothing.
Franks waved to the soldiers.
“Let’s go.” He started toward the
Most of the soldiers had re-
moved their helmets. Some of
them had taken their lead suits
off, too, and were relaxing com-
fortably in their cotton » uniforms.
They stared around them, down
the hillside at the trees and bush-
es, the vast expanse of green, the
mountains and the sky.
“Look at the Sun,” one of them
“It sure is bright as hell,” an-
“We’re going back down,”
Franks said. “Fall in by twos and
Reluctantly, the soldiers re-
grouped. The leadys watched
without emotion as the men
marched slowly back toward the
warehouse. Franks and Moss and
Taylor led them across the
ground, glancing alertly at the
leadys as they walked.
They entered the warehouse.
D-class leadys were loading ma-
terial and weapons on surface
carts. Cranes and derricks were
working busily everywhere. The
work was done with efficiency,
but without hurry or excitement.
The men stopped, watching.
Leadys operating the little carts
moved past them, signaling, si-
lently to each other. Guns and
parts were being hoisted by mag-
netic cranes and lowered gently
onto waiting carts.
“Come on,” Franks said.
He turned toward the lip of the
Tube. A row of D-class leadys
was standing in front of it, im-
mobile and silent. Franks stop-
ped, moving back. He looked
around. An A-class leady was
coming toward him.
“Tell them to get out of the
way,” Franks said. He touched
his gun. “You had better move
Time passed, an endless mo-
ment, without measure. The men
stood, nervous and alert, watch-
ing the row of leadys in front of
“As you wish,” the A-class
It signaled and the D-class
leadys moved into life. They
stepped slowly aside.
Moss breathed a sigh of relief.
“I’m glad that’s over,” he said
to Franks. “Look at them all.
Why don’t they try to stop us?
They must know what we’re go-
ing to do.”
Franks laughed. “Stop us?
You saw what happened when
they tried to stop us before. They
can’t; they’re only machines. We
built them so they can’t lay hands
on us, and they know that.”
His voice trailed off.
The men stared at the Tube
entrance. Around them the leadys
watched, silent and impassive,
their metal faces expressionless.
For a long time the men stood
without moving. At last Taylor
“Good God,” he said. He was
numb, without feeling of any
The Tube was gone. It was
sealed shut, fused over. Only a
dull surface of cooling metal
The Tube had been closed.
F RANKS turned, his face pale
The A-class leady shifted. “As
you can see, the Tube has been
shut. We were prepared for this.
As soon as all of you were on the
surface, the order was given. If
you had gone back when we
asked you, you would now be
safely down below. We had to
work quickly because it was such
an immense operation.”
“But why?” Moss demanded
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
“Because it is unthinkable that
you should be allowed to resume
the war. With all the Tubes seal-
ed, it will be many months before
forces from below can reach the
surface, let alone organize a mili-
tary program. By that time the
cycle will have entered its last
stages. You will not be so per-
turbed to find your world intact.
“We had hoped that you would
be -undersurface when the sealing
occurred. Your presence here is a
nuisance. When the Soviets broke
through, we were able to accomp-
lish their sealing without — ”
“The Soviets? They broke
“Several months ago, they
came up unexpectedly to see why
the war had not been won. We
were forced to act with speed. At
this moment they are desperately
attempting to cut new Tubes to
the surface, to resume the war.
We have, however, been able to
seal each new one as it appears.”
The leady regarded the three
“We’re cut off,” Moss said,
trembling. “We can’t get back.
What’ll we do?”
“How did you manage to seal
the Tube so quickly?” Franks
asked the leady. “We’ve been up
here only two hours.”
“Bombs are placed just above
the first stage of each Tube for
such emergencies. They are heat
bombs. They fuse lead and rock.”
Gripping the handle of his gun,
Franks turned to Moss and Tay-
“What do you say? We can’t
go back, but we can do a lot of
damage, the fifteen of us. We
have Bender guns. How about
He looked around. The soldiers
had wandered away again, back
toward the exit of the building.
They were standing outside, look-
ing at the valley and the sky. A
few of them were carefully climb-
ing down the slope.
“Would you care to turn over
your suits and guns?” the A-class
leady asked politely. “The suits
are uncomfortable and you’ll
have no need for weapons. The
Russians have given up theirs, as
you can see.”
Fingers tensed on triggers.
Four men in Russian uniforms
were coming toward them from
an aircraft that they suddenly
realized had landed silently some
“Let them have it!” Franks
“They are unarmed,” said the
leady. “We brought them here so
you could begin peace talks.”
“We have no authority to
speak for our country,” Moss
“We do not mean diplomatic
discussions,” the leady explained.
“There will be no more. The
working out of daily problems of
existence will teach you how to
get along in the same world. It
will not be easy, but it will be
HDHE Russians halted and they
-*• faced each other with raw
‘‘I am Colonel Borodoy and I
regret giving up our guns,” the
senior Russian said. “You could
have been the first Americans to
be killed in almost eight years.”
“Or the first Americans to kill,”
“No one would know of it ex-
cept yourselves,” the leady point-
ed out. “It would be useless
heroism. Your real concern
should be surviving on the sur-
face. We have no food for you,
Taylor put his gun in its hol-
ster. “They’ve done a neat job
of neutralizing us, damn them. I
propose we move into a city,
start raising crops with the help
of some leadys, and generally
make ourselves comfortable.”
Drawing hi? lips tight over his
teeth, he glared at the A-class
leady. “Until our families can
come up from undersurface, it’s
going to be pretty lonesome, but
we’ll have to manage.”
“If I may make a suggestion,”
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
said another Russian uneasily.
“We tried living in a city. It is
too empty. It is also too hard to
maintain for so few people. We
finally settled in the most modern
village we could find.”
“Here in this country,” a third
Russian blurted. “We have much
to learn from you.”
The Americans abruptly found
“You probably have a thing or
two to teach us yourselves,” said
Taylor generously, “though I
can’t imagine what.”
The Russian colonel grinned.
“Would you join us in our vil-
lage? It would make our work
easier and give us company.”
“Your village?” snapped
Franks. "It’s American, isn’t it?
The leady stepped between
them. “When our plans are com-
pleted, the term will be inter-
changeable. ‘Ours’ will eventually
mean mankind’s.” It pointed at
the aircraft, which was warming
up. “The ship is waiting. Will
you join each other in making a
The Russians ‘waited while the
Americans made up their minds.
“I see what the leadys mean
about diplomacy becoming out-
moded,” Franks said at last.
“People who work together don’t
need diplomats. They solve their
problems on the operational level
instead of at a conference table.”
The leady led them toward the
ship. “It is the goal of history,
unifying the world. From family
to tribe to city-state to nation to
hemisphere, the direction has
been toward unification. Now the
hemispheres will be joined and — ”
Taylor stopped listening and
glanced back at the location of
the Tube. Mary was undersur-
face there. He hated to leave her,
even though he couldn't see her
again until the Tube was unseal-
ed. But then he shrugged and fol-
lowed the others.
If this tiny amalgam of former
enemies was a good example, it
wouldn’t be too long before he
and Mary and the rest of human-
ity would be living on the sur-
face like rational human beings
instead of blindly hating moles.
“It has taken thousands of
generations to achieve,” the A-
class leady concluded. “Hundreds
of centuries of bloodshed and de-
struction, But each war was a
step toward uniting mankind.
And now the end is in sight: a
world without war. But even
that is only the beginning of a
new stage of history.”
“The conquest of space,”
breathed Colonel Borodoy.
“The meaning of life,” Moss
“Eliminating hunger and pov-
erty,” said Taylor.
The leady opened the door of
the ship. “All that and more.
How much more? We cannot
foresee it any more than the first
men who formed a tribe could
foresee this day. But it will be
The door closed and the ship
took off toward their new home.
—PHILIP K. DICK
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
Anyone can make an error, but
the higher the society . . . the
more disastrous the mistake!
Illustrated by DICK FRANCIS
By JAMES CAUSEY
H ALF an hour before, while
she had been engrossed
in the current soap opera
and Harry Junior was screaming
in his crib, Melinda would natur-
ally have slammed the front door
in the little man’s face. However,
when the bell rang, she was
wearing her new Chinese red
housecoat, had just lustered her
nails to a blinding scarlet, and
Harry Junior was sleeping like an
Yawning, Melinda answered
the door and the little man said,
beaming, “Excellent day. I have
geegaws for information.”
Melinda did not quite recoil.
He was perhaps five feet tall,
with a gleaming hairless scalp
and a young-old face. He wore
a plain gray tunic, and a ped-
dler’s tray hung from his thin
“Don’t want any,” Melinda
“Please" He had great, be-
seeching amber eyes. “They all
say that. I haven’tjnuch time. I
must be back at the University
“You working your way
He brightened. “Yes. I sup-
pose you could call it that. Alien
Melinda softened. The initia-
tions those frats pulled nowadays
— shaving the poor guy’s head,
eating goldfish — it was criminal.
“Well?” she asked grudgingly.
“What’s in the tray?”
“Flanglers,” said the little man
eagerly. “Oscillioscopes. Portable
force-field generators. A neural
distorter.” Melinda’s face was
blank. The little man frowned.
“You use them, of course? This
is a Class IV culture?*’ Melinda
essayed a weak shrug and the
little man sighed with relief. His
eyes fled past her to the blank
screen of the TV set. “Ah, a
monitor.” He smiled. “For a mo-
ment I was afraid — May I come
11/l'ELINDA shrugged, opened
the door. This might be in-
teresting, like a vacuum-clean-
er salesman who had cleaned her
drapes last week for free. And
Kitty Kyle Battles Life wouldn’t
be on for almost an hour.
“My name is Porteous,” said
the little man with an eager smile.
“I’m doing a thematic on Class
IV cultures.” He whipped out a
stylus, began jotting down notes.
The TV set fascinated him.
“It’s turned off right now,”
Porteous’s eyes widened impos-
sibly. “You mean,” he whispered-
in .horror, “that you’re exercising
Class V privileges? This is ter-
ribly confusing. I get doors
slammed in my face, when Class
Fours are supposed to have a
splendid gregarian quotient — you
do have atomic power, don’t
“Oh, sure,” said Melinda un-
comfortably. This wasn’t going to
be much fun.
“Space travel?” The little face
was intent, sharp.
“Well," Melinda yawned, look-
mg at the blank screen, “they’ve
got Space Patrol, Space Cadet,
Tales of Tomorrow ...”
“Excellent. Rocket ships or
force-fields?” Melinda blinked.
"Does your husband own one?"
Melinda shook her blonde head
helplessly. “What are your eco-
Melinda took a deep rasping
breath, said, “Listen, mister, is
this a demonstration or a quiz
“Oh, my excuse. Demonstra-
tion, certainly. You will not mind
“Questions?” There was an
ominous glint in Melinda’s blue
“Your delightful primitive cus-
toms, art-forms, personal hab-
its — ”
“Look,” Melinda said, crim-
soning. “This is a respectable
neighborhood, and I’m not an-
swering any Kinsey report, un-
The little man nodded, scrib-
bling. "Personal habits are tabu?
I so regret. The demonstration.”
He waved grandly at the tray.
“Anti-grav sandals? A portable
solar converter? Apologizing for
this miserable selection, but on
Capella they told me — ” He fol-
lowed Melinda’s entranced gaze,
selected a tiny green vial. “This
is merely a regenerative solution.
You appear to have no cuts or
“Oh,” said Melinda nastily.
"Cures warts, cancer, grows hair,
Porteous brightened. “Of
course. I see you can scan. Amaz-
ing.” He scribbled further with
his stylus, glanced up, blinked
at the obvious scorn on Me-
linda’s face. “Here. Try it."
“You try it.” Now watch him
Porteous hesitated. “Would
you like me to grow an extra
finger, hair — ”
“Grow some hair." Melinda
tried not to smile.
The little man unstopped the
vial, poured a shimmering green
drop on his wrist, frowning.
“Must concentrate.” he said.
“Thorium base, suspended solu-
tion. Really jolts the endocrines,
complete control . . . see?”
Melinda’s jaw dropped. She
stared at the tiny tuft of hair
which had sprouted on that bare
wrist. She was thinking abruptly,
unhappily, about that chignon
she had bought yesterday. They
had let her buy that for eight
dollars when with this stuff she
could have a natural one.
“How much?” she inquired
“A half hour of your time
only,” said Porteous.
Melinda grasped the vial firm-
ly, settled down on the sofa with
one leg tucked carefully under
“Okay, shoot. But nothing per-
P ORTEOUS was delighted. He
asked a multitude of ques-
tions, most of them pointless,
some naive, and Melinda dug
into her infinitesimal fund of
knowledge and gave. The little
man scribbled furiously, cluck-
ing like a gravid hen.
“You mean,” he asked in
amazement, “that you live in
these primitive huts of your own
“It’s a G.I. housing project,”
Melinda said, ashamed.
“Astonishing.” He wrote: Feu-
dal anachronisms and atomic
power, side by side. Class Fours
periodically "rough it" in back-
Harry Junior chose that mo-
ment to begin screaming for his
lunch. Porteous sat, trembling.
“Is that a Security Alarm?”
“My son,” said Melinda de-
spondently, and went into the
Porteous followed, and watched
the ululating child with some
“Eighteen months,” said Me-
linda stiffly, changing diapers.
“He’s cutting teeth.”
Porteous shuddered. “What a
pity. Obviously atavistic.
Wouldn’t the creche accept him?
You shouldn’t have to keep him
“I keep after Harry to get a
maid, but he says we can’t afford
“Manifestly insecure,” mutter-
ed the little man, studying Harry
Junior. “Definite paranoid ten-
“He was two weeks prema-
ture,” volunteered Melinda. “He’s
“I know just the thing,” Por-
teous said happily. “Here.” He
dipped into the glittering litter
on the tray and handed Harry
Junior a translucent prism. “A
neural distorter. We use it to
train regressives on Rigel Two.
It might be of assistance.”
Melinda eyed the thing doubt-
fully. Harry Junior was peering
into the shifting crystal depths
with a somewhat strained expres-
“Speeds up the neural flow,”
explained the little man proudly.
“Helps tap the unused eighty
per cent. The pre-symptomatic
memory is unaffected, due to au-
tomatic cerebral lapse in case of
overload. I’m afraid it won’t do
much more than cube his present
IQ, and an intelligent idiot is
still an idiot, but — ”
“How dare you?” Melinda’s
eyes flashed. “My son is not an
idiot! You get out of here this
minute and take your — things
with you.” As she reached for
the prism, Harry Junior squalled.
Melinda relented. “Here,” she
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
said angrily, fumbling with her
purse. “How much are they?”
“Medium of exchange?” Por-
teous rubbed his bald skull. “Oh,
I really shouldn’t — but it’ll make
such a wonderful addendum to
the chapter on malignant primi-
tives. What is your smallest de-
“Is a dollar okay?” Melinda
Porteous was pleased with the
picture of George Washington.
He turned the bill over and over
in his fingers, at last bowed low
and formally, apologized for any
tabu violations, and left via the
“Crazy fraternities,” muttered
Melinda, turning on the TV set.
lZ'ITTY KYLE was dull that
morning. At length Melinda
used some of the liquid in the
greeh vial on her eyelashes, was
quite pleased at the results, and
hid the rest in the medicine
Harry Junior was a model of
docility the rest of that day.
While Melinda watched TV and
munched chocolates, did and re-
did her hair, Harry Junior play-
ed quietly with the crystal prism.
Toward late afternoon, he
crawled over to the bookcase,
wrestled down the encyclopedia
and pawed through it, gurgling
with delight. He definitely, Me-
linda decided, would make a fine
lawyer someday, not a useless
putterer like Big Harry, who
worked all hours overtime in that
damned lab. She scowled as
Harry Junior, bored with the en-
cyclopedia, began reaching for
one of Big Harry’s tomes on
nuclear physics. One putterer in
the family was enough! But when
she tried to take the book away
from him, Harry Junior howled
so violently that she let well
At six-thirty, Big Harry called
from the lab, with the usual
despondent message that he
would not be home for supper.
Melinda said a few resigned
things about cheerless dinners
eaten alone, hinted darkly what
lonesome wives sometimes did
for company, and Harry said he
was very sorry, but this might
be it, and Melinda hung up on
him in a temper.
Precisely fifteen minutes later,
the doorbell rang. Melinda open-
ed the front door and. gaped.
This little man could have been
Porteous’s double, except for the
black metallic tunic, the glacial
“Mrs. Melinda Adams?” Even
the voice was frigid.
“Major Nord, Galactic Secur-
ity." The little man bowed. “You
were visited early this morning
by one Porteous.” He spoke the
name with a certain disgust. “He
left a neural distorter here. Cor-
Melinda’s nod was tremulous.
Major Nord came quietly into
the living room, shut the door
behind him. ‘‘My apologies,
madam, for the intrusion. Por-
teous mistook your world for a
Class IV culture, instead of a
Class VII. Here — ” He handed
her the crumpled dollar bill.
“You may check the serial num-
ber. The distorter, please.”
M ELINDA shrunk limply on-
to the sofa. “I don’t under-
stand,” she said painfully. “Was
he a thief?”
“He was — careless about his
spatial coordinates.” Major
Nord’s teeth showed in the faint-
est of smiles. “He has been
corrected. Where is it?”
“Now look,” said Melinda with
some asperity. “That thing’s kept
Harry Junior quiet all day. I
bought it in good faith, and it’s
not my. fault — say, have you got
“Madam,” said the Major with
dignity, “I dislike violating local
tabus, but must I explain the im-
pact of a neural distorter on a
backwater culture? What if your
Neanderthal had been given
atomic blasters? Where would
you have been today? Swinging
through trees, no doubt. What if
your Hitler had force-fields?” He
exhaled. “Where is your son?”
In the nursery. Harry Junior
was contentedly playing with his
blocks. The prism lay glinting in
Major Nord picked it up care-
fully, scrutinized Harry Junior.
His voice was very soft.
“You said he was — playing
Some vestigial maternal in-
stinct prompted Melinda to
shake her head vigorously. The
little man stared hard at Harry
Junior, who began whimpering.
Trembling, Melinda scooped up
“Is that all you have to do —
run around frightening women
and children? Take your old dis-
torter and get out. Leave decent
Major Nord frowned. If only he
could be sure. He peered stonily
at Harry Junior, murmured,
“Definite egomania. It doesn’t
seem to have affected him.
“Do you want me to scream?”
Major Nord sighed. He bowed
to Melinda, went out, closed the
door, touched a tiny stud on his
tunic, and vanished.
“The manners of some people,”
Melinda said to Harry Junior.
She was relieved that the Major
had not asked for the green vial.
Harry Junior also looked re-
lieved, although for quite a differ-
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
T>IG HARRY arrived home a
little after eleven. There were
small worry creases about his
mouth and forehead, and the
leaden cast of defeat in his eyes.
He went into the bedroom and
Melinda sleepily told him about
the little man working his way
through college by peddling silly
goods, and about that rude cop
named Nord, and Harry said that
was simply astonishing and Me-
linda said, “Harry, you had a
“I had two drinks,” Harry told
her owlishly. “You married a
failure, dear. Part of the experi-
mental model vaporized, wooosh,
just like that. On paper it looked
so good — ”
Melinda had heard it all be-
fore. She asked him to see if
Harry Junior was covered, and
Big Harry went unsteadily into
the nursery, sat down by his son’s
“Poor little guy,” he mused.
“Your old man’s a bum, a use-
less tinker. He thought he could
send Man to the stars on a
string of helium nucleii. Oh, he
was smart. Thought of every-
thing. Auxiliary jets to kick off
the negative charge, bigger merc-
ury vapor banks — a fine straight
thrust of positive Alpha par-
ticles.” He hiccuped, put his face
in his hands.
“Didn’t you ever stop to think
that a few air molecules could
(1) Pebble in the Sky
(2) The Stars, like Dud
(3) The Martian Chroniclei
(4) The Illustrated Man
(3) Lancelot Biggs: Spaceman
(6) Needle *
(7) Fancies and Goodnights
L. SPRAGUE DE CAMP
(8) Rogue Queen
(V) The Big Eye
ROBERT A. HEINLEIN
(10) Tomorrow the Stars (anthology) $2.95
(11) Waldo & Magic, Inc. $2.50
(12) The Puppet Masters $2.75
C. M. KORNBLUTH
(13) Takeoff $2.75
SAM MERWIN, JR.
(14) House of many Worlds
(13) Double in Space $2.75
(16) Double Jeopardy $2.75
(17) Day of the Triffids $2.50
Mall thh coupon today SCIENCE
| — — — FICTION 1
I To: Doubloday A Company, Inc. I
I Dept. G- 1 2 Oardee City, N. Y.
• Please send me Tor seven days FREE ex- ■
■ wnlnetlon the books whose numbers I have I
1 encircled below:
• 10 II 12 13 14 15 16 17 a
• Within seven days I may return any books ■
I I do not wish to keep and owe nothing lor I
1 them. I will send purchase price of those 1
I I keep, plus a tew cents each for shipping I
1 coats. In full payment.
defocus the stream? Try a vac-
Big Harry stood up.
“Did you say something son?”
“Gurfle,” said Harry Junior.
Big Harry reeled into the liv-
ing room like a somnambulist.
He got pencil and paper, began
jotting frantic formulae. Present-
ly he called a cab and raced
back to the laboratory.
M ELINDA was dreaming
about little bald men with
diamond-studded trays. They
were chasing her, they kept pelt-
ing her with rubies and emeralds,
all they wanted was to ask ques-
tions, but she kept running, Harry
Junior clasped tightly in her
arms. Now they were ringing
alarm bells. The bells kept ring-
ing and she groaned, sat up in
bed, and seized the telephone.
“Darling.” Big Harry’s voice
shook. “I’ve got it! More auxili-
ary shielding plus a vacuum.
We’ll be rich!”
“That’s just fine.” said Me-
linda crossly. “You woke the
Harry Junior was sobbing bit-
terly into his pillow. He was sick
with disappointment. Even the
most favorable extrapolation
showed it would take him nine-
teen years to become master of
An eternity. Nineteen years!
STATEMENT OF THE OWNERSHIP. MAN
AGEMENT, AND CIRCULATION REQUIRED
BY THE ACT OF CONGRESS OF AUGUST
24, 1912. AS AMENDED BY THE ACTS OF
MARCH 3. 1933. AND JULY 2. 1946 (Title
39. United States Code. Section 233) of Galaxy
Science Fiction, published monthly at New
York. N. Y. for October 1. 1952.
1. The names and addresses of the publisher,
editor, managing editor, and business managers
are: Publisher, Galaxy Publishing Corp., 421
Hudson Street. New York 14. N. Y.; Editor.
Horace Gold, 505 East 14th Street, New York
City; Managing editor, Business manager, none.
2. The owner is; (If owned by a corpora-
tion, its name and address must be stated and
also immediately thereunder the names and
addresses of stockholders owning or holding I
percent or more of total amount of stock. It
not owned by a corporation, the names and
addresses of individual owners must be given.
If owned by a partnership or other unincorporated
firm, its name and address, as well as that of each
individual member, must be given.) Galaxy Pub-
lishing Corp., 421 Hudson Street, New York 14,
N. Y. ; (stockholder) Robert M. Guinn, 290 No.
Fulton Ave., Mt. Vernon, N. Y.
3. The known bondholders, mortgagees, and
other security holders owning or holding 1 per-
cent or more of total amount of bonds, mort-
gages, or other securities arc: (If there are none,
so state.) None.
4. Paragraphs 2 and 3 include, in cases where
the stockholder or security holder appears upon
the books of the company as trustee or in any
other fiduciary relation, the name of the person
or corporation for whom such trustee is acting;
also the statements in the two paragraphs show
the affiant's full knowledge anti belief as to the
circumstances and conditions under which stock-
holders and security holders who do not appear
upon the books of the company as trustees, hold
stock and securities in a capacity other than
that of a bona fide owner,
5. The average number of copies of each issue
of this publication sold or distributed, through
the mails or otherwise, to paid subscribers dur-
ing the 12 months preceding the date shown
above was: (This information is required from
daily, weekly, semiwcekly, and triweekly news-
GALAXY PUBLISHING CORP.
Robert M. Guinn. President
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 15th
day of October 1952. Fay D. Einsohn, Commis-
sioner of Deeds. Queens. New York. Kings
Bronx County Clks. No. 41-109170. Commission
expires March 30, 1953.
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
" Happy New Year!" she cried.
But how often should one hear
it said in a single lifetime?
By JAMES McCONNELL
Illustrated by DICK FRANCIS
O UTSIDE, bells were ring-
ing. “Happy New Year!”
The mad sound of peo-
ple crazed for the moment, shout-
ing, echoed the bells.
“Happy New Year!”
A sound of music, waxing,
waning, now joined in wild sym-
phony by the voices, now left
alone to counterpoint the noise
of human celebration. . . .
For a while, Oliver Symmes
the raucous music of the
crowd. It became a part of him,
seemed to come from somewhere
inside him, gave him life. And
then, as always, it passed on,
leaving him empty.
Shadows. . . .
The door to his room opened
and a young-looking woman,
dressed in a pleasant green uni-
form, came in and turned up the
light. On her sleeve she wore the
badge of geriatrician, with the
motto, “To Care for the Aged.”
“Happy New Year, Mr. Sym-
mes,” she said, and went over to
stand by the window. In the mild
light, the sheen of her hair at-
tracted attention away from the
slight imperfections of her face.
She watched the crowd out-
side, wishing she could be a part
of it. There seemed so little life
inside the prison where the only
function of living was the await-
ing of death. “To Care for the
Aged.” That meant to like and
love them as well as to take
physical care of them. Only,
somehow, it seemed so hard to
really love them.
She sighed and turned away
from the window to look at one
of the reasons she could not be
be with the rest of the world
TTE sat bunched up in his chair
like a vegetable. She could
have closed one of her hands
around both his arms together.
Or his legs. Bones and skin and
a few little muscles left, and that
was all. Skin tight, drumlike,
against the skull. Cheeks shrunk,
lips slightly parted by the con-
traction of the skin. Even the
wrinkles he should have had
were erased by the shrinkage of
the epidermis. Even in a strong
light, the faint wrinkle lines were
After a moment of looking at
him, she put a smile back on her
face and repeated her greeting.
“I said, ‘Happy New Year,’
He raised his eyes to her for
a moment, then slowly lowered
“He looks just a little bit like
a caricature,” she said to herself,
feeling a little more tenderness
towards him. “A cute little stick
man made of leaves and twigs
and old bark and. . .”
O HADOWS . For so long there
^ had been shadows. And for a
time the fleeting passage of
dreams and past memories had
been a solace. But now the shad-
ows were withered and old, de-
bilitated and desiccated. They
had been sucked dry of interest
But still they flitted through
his mind on crippled wings,
flapping about briefly in the now-
narrowed shell of his conscious-
ness, then fading back among the
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
cobwebs. Every once in a while,
one of them would return to ex-
ercise its wings.
“Did she say, ‘Happy New
Year?’ ” he wondered. “New
And, at the thought of it, there
came shadows out of the past. . .
V7 - O U N G Oliver Symmes
-*• laughed. The girl laughed,
too. She was good to hold in
one’s arms, soft like a furry ani-
mal, yielding and plush of
“I love you, Ollie,” she said,
the warmness of her body close
He laughed again and wrapped
her in his arms. He owned her
now, owned her smile, her love
for him, her mind and her won-
derful body. She belonged to him,
and the thrill of ownership was
strong and exciting.
“I’ll always love you, Ollie.
I'll love only you.” She ran her
fingers in and out of his hair,
caressing each strand as it went
through her fingers. “I love the
strength of your arms, the firm-
ness of your body.”
Again he laughed, surrendering
all his consciousness to the warm
magic of her spell.
“I love the shading of your
hair and eyes, the smooth angu-
larity of your tallness, the red
ecstasy of your mind.” Her fin-
gers slipped down the back of
his neck, playing little games
with his flesh and hair. “I’ll al-
ways love you, Ollie.”
He kissed her savagely.
During the daytime, there was
his work at the anthropological
laboratories, the joy of poking
among the cultures of the past.
And at night there was the joy
of living with her, of sharing the
tantalizing stimulations of the
culture of the present, the infinite
varieties of love mingling with
For months there was this hap-
piness of the closeness of her.
And then she was gone from him,
for the moment. He still owned
her, but they were physically
apart and there was the hunger
of loneliness in him. The months
his work kept them apart seemed
like centuries, until, finally, he
TTE was walking through a
happy, shouting crowd,
walking back to her. It was the
eve of the new year, a time for
beginnings, a time for looking
from the pleasures of the past to
those waiting in the future. There
was a happy outcry inside him
that matched the mood of the
“Happy New Year!”
Women stopped him on the
street, asking for his affection.
But he passed them by, for she
was waiting for him and he was
hungry for the possessive love of
He went eagerly into the build-
ing where they lived.
rpHE crowd was gone. A door
was opening. The voice of his
love, sudden, full of naked
surprise, bleated at him. And an-
other voice, that of a man stand-
ing behind her, croaked with
hasty excuses and fear.
A change of hungers — it
seemed no more complex than
. He put his hand to his side and
took out a piece of shaped metal,
pointing it at the man. A blast of
light and the man was dead. He
put the weapon aside.
Young Oliver Symmes walked
toward the girl. She backed away
from him, pleading with words,
eyes, body. He noticed for the
first time the many small imper-
fections of her face and figure. *
Cornered, she raised her arms
to embrace him. He raised his
arms to answer the embrace, but
his hands stopped and felt their
way around the whiteness of her
neck. He pressed his hands to-
gether, thumbs tight against each
Minutes later, he dropped her
to the floor and stood looking at
her. He had owned her and then
destroyed her when his owner-
ship was in dispute.
He bent to kiss the lax lips.
S HADOWS. As a man grows
older, the weight and size of
his brain decrease, leaving cavi-
ties in his mind. The years that
pass are a digger, a giant exca-
vator, scooping the mass of past
experience up in the maw of dis-
sipation. The slow, sure evacua-
tion of the passing decades leaves
wing-room in a man’s head for
The withered man looked up
again. The woman ih the green
uniform was smiling at him
through parted, almost twisted
“I suppose that this time of
year is the worst for you, isn’t
it?” she asked sympathetically.
The first requirement of a good
geriatrician was sympathy and
understanding. She determined
to try harder to understand.
The old man made no answer,
only staring at her face. But his
eyes were blank — seeing, yet
blind to all around him. She
frowned for a moment as she
looked at him. The unnatural
hairlessness of his body puzzled
her, making it difficult for her
to understand him while the
thought was in her mind — that
and the trouble she had getting
through to him.
She stared at him as if to
pierce the blankness of his gaze.
Behind his eyes lay the emptiness
of age, the open wound of stifled
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
“I’ll move you over to the win-
dow, Mr. Symmes,” she told him
io soothing tones, her smile re-
appearing. “Then you can look
out and see all the people. Won’t
that be fun?”
Picking up a box from the
table, she adjusted a dial. The
chair in which he was sitting rose
slightly from the floor and posi-
tioned itself in front of the win-
dow. The woman walked to the
wall beside him and corrected the
visual index of the glass to match
the weakness of the old man’s
“See, down there? Just look at
them pushing about.”
A rabble of faces swam on the
glass in front of him, faces of
unfamiliar people, all of them un-
known and unknowable to him.
Inside him the whisper of the
wings mounted in pitch with a
whining, leathery sound. The im-
ages of dead faces came flying up,
careening across his mind, min-
gling and merging with the faces
of the living. The glass became
an anomalous torrent of faces.
Dead faces . . .
F OUR walls around him, bare
to the point of boredom.
Through the barred window, the
throbbing throat of the crowd
talked to him. His young body
took it in, his young mind ac-
cepted it, catalogued it and
pushed it out of consciousness.
And for each individual voice
there was an individual face,
staring up at his cell from the
comparative safety of outside.
Young Oliver Symmes could not
see the faces from where he sat,
waiting, but he could sense them.
There came a feel of hands on
his shoulder; his reverie was in-
terrupted. Arms under his raised
him to his feet. A face smiled,
almost kindly, in understanding.
“They’re waiting for you, Mr.
Symmes. It’s time to go.”
More words. Walking from
this place to that, mostly with a
crowd of people at his shoulders,
pressing him in. Then a door
ahead of him, ornate in carving,
a replica of the doors to the Ro-
man Palace of Justice many cen-
turies before. Again his mind
catalogued the impressions.
Then, like the faces of the
people outside his cell, the pic-
tures of the bas-relief faded
away, melted and merged into a
The doors opened and, with
part of the crowd still at his side,
he went through. The people in-
side were standing; stick men, it
seemed to him, with painted bah-
loons for faces. The sound of the
rapping of a gavel caught his
ear. The people sat, and the trial
“This court will admit to evi-
dence only those events and arti-
facts which are proved true and
relevant to the alleged crime.”
An obsequious clearing of
throats. A coughing now and
“. . . And did you see the de-
fendant, Oliver Symmes, enter
the apartment of the deceased on
the night of the Thirty-first of
December, two thousand and . .
“I did. He was wearing a sort
of orange tunic . . .”
Someone whispered in his ear.
Oliver Symmes heard and shook
. . You are personally ac-
quainted with the defendant?”
“I am. We worked for United
Anthropological Laboratories be-
fore he . . .”
The blackness of the judge’s
robe puzzled him. A vestige, an
anachronism, handed down from
centuries before. White was the
color of truth, not black.
“You swear that you found the
defendant standing over the body
of the deceased woman on the
night of . . .”
“Not standing, sir. He was
bending over, kissing . .
TpAYS of it, back and forth,
testimony and more testi-
mony. Evidence and more evi-
dence and the lack of it. Smiling
lawyers, grimacing lawyers,
soothing lawyers and cackling
lawyers. And witnesses.
“You will please take the
stand, Mr. Symmes.”
He walked to the chair and
sat down. The courtroom leaned
forward, the stick men bowed
toward him slightly, as in eager
applause of the coming most
dramatic moment of a spectacle.
“You will please tell the court
in your own words . . .”
He mouthed the words. The
whole story, the New Year’s
crowd, his hunger for her, his
arrival, the other man and his
babbling, the woman and how
she looked, his feelings, his trans-
figured passions, and the deaths.
He told the story again and
again until they seemed satisfied.
“You understand, Mr. Sym-
mes, that you have committed a
most heinous crime. You have
killed two ''people in a passion
that, while it used to be forgiven
by the circumstances, is no long-
er tolerated by this government.
You have killed, Mr. Symmes!”
The face before him was in-
tense. He looked at it, not under-
standing the reason for the
frozen look of malice and hatred.
“She was mine. When she be-
trayed me, I killed her. Is that
The stick men snorted and
poked each other in the ribs with
There were more words and
more questions. He looked at the
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
face of the judge and wondered,
for a moment, if perhaps the col-
or of the robe was to match the
apparent disposition of the man.
And then came the silence, a
time of sitting and waiting. He
sensed the wondering stares of
the stick men, wide-eyed in ap-
prehension, suspended from the
drabness of their own lives for
the moment by the stark visita-
tion of tragedy in his. They
gabbled among themselves and
wagered on the verdict.
The man next to him leaned
over and tapped him on the arm.
Everyone stood up and then,
curiously, sat down again almost
at once. He felt the tension preir
ent in the courtroom, but was
strangely relaxed himself. It was
peculiar that they were all so
“Your Honor, having duly
considered the seriousness of the
crime and the evidence pre-
sented . . .”
The balloon faces on the stick
men stretched in anticipation.
. . taking full cognizance of
the admitted passion on the part
of the defendant and the cir-
cumstances . . .”
The balloons were strained,
contorted out of all proportion in
“. . . we find the defendant
guilty of murder, making no
recommendation for considera-
tion by the Court.”
The balloons exploded!
D EAFENING and more than
deafening, the uproar of the
voices was beyond belief. He
threw his hands up over his ears
to shut out the noise.
The gavel crashed again and
again, striking the polished oak
in deadly cadence, stifling the
voices. Over the stillness, one
man spoke. He recognized the
black voice of the judge and took
his hands from his ears and put
them in his lap. He was told to
stand and he obeyed.
“Oliver Symmes, there has
been no taking of human lives in
this nation for many years, until
your shockingly primitive crime.
We had taken pride in this rec-
ord. Now you have broken it.
We must not only punish you
adequately and appropriately,
but we must also make of your
punishment a warning to anyone
who would follow your irrational
“Naturally, we no longer have
either the apparatus to execute
anyone or an executioner. We do
not believe that a stupidly un-
reasoning act should incite us to
equally unreasoning reprisal, for
we would then be as guilty of ir-
rationality as you.
“We must establish our own
precedent, since there is no re-
cent one and the ancient punish-
ments are not acceptable to us.
Therefore, because we are hu-
mane and reasoning persons, the
Court orders that the defendant,
Oliver Symmes, be placed in the
National Hospital for observa-
tion, study and experimentation
so that this crime may never
again be repeated. He is to be
kept there under perpetual care
until no possible human skill or
resource can further sustain life
in his body.”
Someone jumped erect beside
him, quivering with horror and
indignation. It was his lawyer.
“Your Honor, we throw our-
selves upon the mercy of the
Court. No matter what the crime
of the defendant, this is a great-
er one. For this is a crime not
just against my client, but
against all men. This sentence
robs all men of their most prec-
ious freedom — the right to die at
their appointed times. Nothing
is more damaging to the basic
dignity of the human race than
this most hideous . . .”
“. . . This Court recognizes
only the four freedoms. The free-
dom of death is not one of these.
The sentence stands. The Court
There were tears in the eyes of
his lawyer, although young Oli-
ver Symmes did not quite com-
prehend, as yet, their meaning.
Hands, rougher than before,
grasped his arms with strange
firmness and led him off into . . .
S HADOWS. They come in
cycles, each prompted to ac-
tivity by the one preceding it.
They flutter in unbelievable
clusters, wheel in untranslatable
formations through the cerebric
wasteland that is the aged mind
of Oliver Symmes. They have no
meaning to him, save for a fur-
tive spark of recognition that in-
trudes upon him once in a while.
The woman in the green uni-
form, standing to. one side of the
window, smiled at him again. It
was much simpler to care for
him, she thought, if only one
conceived of him as being a sort
of sweet little wornout teddy
l^ar. Yes, that was what he was,
a little teddy bear that had got-
ten most of its stuffing lost and
had shriveled and shrunk. And
one can easily love and pamper
a teddy bear.
“Can you see the crowd all
right, Mr. Symmes? This is a
good place to watch from, isn’t
Her words fell upon his ears,
setting up vibrations and oscilla-
tions in the basilar membranes.
Nerve cells triggered impulses
that sped along neutral pathways
to the withered cortex, where
they lost themselves in the welter
of atrophy and disintegration.
They emerged into his conscious-
ness as part of a gestaltic confu-
“Isn’t it exciting, watching
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
from here?” she asked, showing
enthusiasm at the sight of the
crowd below. “You should be en-
joying this immensely, you know.
Not all the people here have
windows to look out of like this.”
There, now, that should make
him feel a little better.
His eyes, in their wandering,
came to rest upon her uniform,
so cool and comforting in its
greenness. A flicker of light
gleamed from the metallic in-
signia on her sleeve: “To Care
for the Aged.” Somewhere inside
him an association clicked, a
brief fire of response to a past
event kindled into a short-lived
flame, lighting the way through
cobwebs for another shadow . . .
H OW many years he had been
waiting for the opportunity,
he did not know. It seemed like
decades, although it might have
been only a handful of months.
And all the time he had waited,
he could feel himself growing old-
er, could sense the syneresis, the
slow solidifying of the life ele-
ments within him. He sat quietly
and grew old, thinking the chance
would never come.
But it did come, when he had
least expected it.
It was a treat — his birthday.
Because of it, they had given him
actual food for the first time in
years: a cake, conspicuous in its
barrenness of candles; a glass of
real vegetable juices; a dab of
potato; an indescribable green
that might have been anything at
all; and a little steak. A succu-
lent, savory-looking piece of gen-
The richness of the food would
probably make him sick, so un-
accustomed to solid food was his
digestive tract by now, but it
would be worth the pain.
And it was then that he saw
It lay there on the tray, its
honed edge glittering in the light
of the sun. A sharp knife, capable
of cutting steak — or flesh of any
“Well, how do you like your
birthday present, Mr. Symmes?”
He looked up quickly at the
woman standing beside the tray.
The yellow pallor of her middle-
aged skin matched the color of
her uniform. She wore the insig-
nia of a geriatrics supervisor.
He let a little smile flicker
across his face. “Why, it’s . . .
it’s wonderful. I never expected
it at all. It’s been so long, you
know. So very long.”
How could he get rid of her?
If he tried anything with her
watching, she would stop him.
And then he’d never get another
“I’m glad you like it, Mr.
Symmes. Synthetic foods do get
tiresome after a while, don’t
The idea came with sudden-
ness and he responded to it
“But where are my pink pills?
I always take them at lunch.”
“You won’t need them if
you’re eating real food.”
He whipped his voice into pet-
ulance: “Yes, I will! I don’t care
if it is real food — I want my
“I’ll get them for you later. Go
ahead and eat first.”
“I can’t eat until I take my
pink pills! You ought to know
that! I won’t touch a thing until
I get them! You’ve ruined my
The whims of the aging are
without logic, so she went to get
the pills, leaving Oliver Symmes
and the gleaming, sharp knife
W HERE should he start? The
heart? No, that would be
too quick, too easy to repair.
He remembered his studies of
the middle Japanese culture and
the methods of suicide practiced
at that time. The intestines! So
many of them to cut and slash
at, so much damage that might
be done before death set in! May-
be even the lungs! But he must
Picking up the knife, he point-
ed it as his appendix. For a mo-
ment he hesitated, and his eyes
observed again the little feast
laid out before him. He thought
briefly about pausing for just a
while to taste the little steak, to
nibble briefly at the delectable-
looking cake. He hated to leave
it untouched. It had been such a
long time . . .
The sudden memory of time,
and how much of it he had spent
hoping for this moment, snapped
his attention back to the knife.
Steeling his grip on it, he pressed
it in hard.
His eyes bulged with the ex-
cruciating pain as he wrenched
the knife from right to left, twist-
ing it wildly as he went, blindly
slashing at his vital organs with
the hope that once and for all he
could stop the long and eternal
His mouth filled with the taste
of blood. He spat it out through
clenched teeth. It gushed down
his chin, staining the cleanness
of his robe. His lips parted to
And then his eyes closed.
A ND opened again! He was
staring at the ceiling, but the
men and women standing around
him got in his way.
Their lips were moving, their
“That was a nasty thing for
him to do.”
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
“They all do it, once or twice,
until they learn.”
“Third time for him, isn’t it?”
“Yes, I believe so. First time
he tried hanging himself. Second
time he was beating his head
against the wall when we came
and stopped him. Bloody mess
that one was.”
“Nothing to compare with this,
Oliver Symmes felt sick with
fear of frustration.
“Nice technique you showed,
Doctor. He’d been dead at least
an hour when we started, hadn’t
“Almost two,” someone else
said. “An amazing job.”
“Thank you. But it wasn’t too
difficult. Just a little patching
here and there.”
He felt his legs being shifted
“Be careful there, Nurse. Han-
dle him gently. Fragilitas Ossium,
you know. Old bones break very
“Not that we couldn’t fix them
up immediately if they did.”
“I wish they’d try something
different for a change.” •
“The woman in the next room
lost an eye last year, trying to
reach the pre-frontals. Good as
new now, of course.”
He wanted to vomit at the use-
lessness of it all.
“By the way, what’s he in for?
Do you know?”
“No, I’d have to look it up.”
“Or maybe even slander.”
“Is that on the prescribed anti-
social list now?”
“Oh, yes. It was passed just
before the destructive criticism
“Think he’ll try this messy
business again?” ■
“They all do.”
“They do, don’t they? Don’t
they ever learn it’s no use?”
“Eventually. Some are just
harder* to convince than others.”
The pain was gone. He closed
his eyes and slipped off into
darkness again and into . . .
S HADOWS. In slow and pon-
derous fashion they float
across the sea of his mind, like
wandering bits of sargasso weed
on the brackish water of a dying
ocean. Each one dreamed a thou-
sand times too many, each sep-
arate strand of memory-weed
now nothing but a stereotyped
shred of what might have once
been a part of life and of living.
With the quietness of deserted
ships they drift in procession
past his sphere of consciousness.
Wait! There’s one that seemS fa-
miliar. He stops the mental pa-
rade for a moment, not hearing
the voice of his companion, the
woman in the green uniform.
“It’s getting late, Mr. Sym-
mes.” She turned from the win-
dow and glanced at the wizened-
ness, the fragile remainder of the
man, the almost empty shell. It
was a pity he wasn’t able to play
games with her like some of the
others. That made it so much
easier. “Don’t you think it’s
about time you went to bed?
Early to bed and early to rise,
That memory of a needle,
pointed and gleaming. What was
Oh, yes. Stick it in his arm,
push the plunger, pull it out;
and wait for him to die. First
one disease and then another,
to each he happily succumbed,
in the interests of science, only
to be resuscitated. Each time a
willing volunteer, an eager guinea
pig, he had hoped for the ease
of death, praying that for once
they’d wait too long, the germs
would prove too virulent, that
something would go wrong.
“There, now, you just lie back
and get comfortable,” she said,
walking over to the table. “But
it has been fun, hasn’t it? Watch-
ing the crowds, I mean.” She
felt he must be much happier
now, and the knowledge of it
gave her a sense of success. She
was living up to her pledge, “To
Care for the Aged.”
Diabetes, tuberculosis, cancer
of the stomach, tumor of the
brain. He’d had them all. and
many others. They had swarmed
to him through the gouged skin-
openings made by the gleaming
needle. And each had brought
the freedom of blackness, of
death, sometimes for an hour,
sometimes for a whole week. But
always life returned again, and
the waiting, waiting, waiting.
“I enjoy New Year’s myself,”
the woman said, her hands ca-
ressing a dial. Slowly, with gen-
tle undulation, his chair rose
from the floor and cradled the
aged tiredness that was Oliver
Symmes to his bed. With almost
tender devotion, his body was
mechanically shifted from the
portable chair to the freshly made
O NE of his arms was caught
for just a moment under the
slight weight of his body. There
was a short, snapping sound, but
Oliver Symmes took no notice.
His face remained impassive.
Even pain had lost its meaning.
“It’s a pity we couldn’t have
been outside with the rest of
them, celebrating,” she said, as
she arranged the covers around
him, not noticing the arm herself.
This was the part of her job
she enjoyed most — tucking the
nice little man into bed. He did
look sweet there, under the cov-
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
ers, didn’t he?
“Just imagine, Mr. Symmes,
another year’s gone by, and what
have we accomplished?”
Her prattle seeped in and he
became aware of it and what she
was saying. New Year?
“What — what year — is this?”
He spoke with great difficulty,
from the long disuse of vocal
cords. It was hardly more than
a whisper, but she heard and
“Why, Mr. Symmes, it’s been
so long since you’ve talked.” She
paused, but realized that she had
not answered his question.
“It’s ’73, of course. Last year
was ’72, so tonight’s the start of
’73? Had it been fifty years
since he came here? Had it been
just that long?
“What — ” She leaned closer to
him as he struggled for the word.
“What — century?”
Her astonishment was gone.
He was teasing her, like the
woman on the next level. These
old ones were great for that!
“Now, Mr. Symmes, everybody
knows what century it is.” She
smiled at him glowingly, think-
ing she had caught him at a
prank. It jvas nice, she thought,
to have gotten through to him
tonight, on the eve* of the new
year. That meant that she was
living up to her motto the way
she ought to be.
She’d have to tell the super-
visor about it.
Oliver Symmes turned to face
the ceiling, his mind full of dusty
whispers. What century was it?
She hadn’t answered. It might
have been a hundred and fifty
years ago he came here, instead
of just fifty. Or possibly two hun-
dred and fifty, or . . .
"Now, you be good, and sleep
tight, and I’ll see you in the
morning.” Her hand passed over
a glowing stud and the room
light dimmed to a quiet glow.
Lying there in the bed, he did
look like a teddy bear, a dear
little teddy bear. She was so
“Good night, Mr. Symmes.”
She closed the door.
O UTSIDE, bells were ringing.
“Happy New Year.”
The ceiling stared back at him.
The mad sound of people
crazed for the moment, shouting,
echoed the bells.
“Happy New Year!”
He turned his head^to one side.
“Happy New Year!”
And again . . . and again . . .
T WO slitted green eyes
loomed up directly in front
of him. He plunged into
He had just made the voyage,
naked through the dimension
stratum, and he scurried into the
first available refuge, to hover
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
Containing a foe is sound military thinking
— unless it's carried out so literally that
everybody becomes an innocent Trojan Horse!
The word “he” does not strictly
apply to the creature, for it had
no sex, nor are the words
“naked,” “scurried,” “hover” and
“gasping” accurate at all. But
there are no English words to de-
scribe properly what it was and
how it moved, except in very gen-
eral terms. There are no Asiatic,
African or European words,
though perhaps there are mathe-
matical symbols. But, because
this is not a technical paper, the
symbols have no place in it.
He was a sort of spy, a sort of
fifth-columnist. He had some of
the characteristics of a kamikaze
pilot, too, because there was no
telling if he’d get back from his
Hovering in his refuge and
gasping for breath, so to speak,
he tried to compose his thoughts
after the terrifying journey and
adjust himself to his new envi-
ronment, so he could get to work.
His job, as first traveler to this
new world, the Earth, was to
learn if it were suitable for habi-
tation by his fellow beings back
home. Their world was about
ended and they had to move or
He was being discomfited, how-
ever, in his initial adjustment.
His first stop jn the new world —
unfortunately, not only for his
dignity, but for his equilibrium —
had been in the mind of a cat.
TT was his own fault, really. He
-*• and the others had decided
that his first in a series of tem-
porary habitations should be in
one of the lower order of animals.
It was a matter of precaution —
the mind would be easy to con-
trol, if it came to a contest. Also,
there would be less chance of run-
ning into a mind-screen and be-
ing trapped or destroyed.
The cat had no mind-screen,
of course; some might even have
argued that she didn’t have a
mind, especially the human cou-
ple she lived with. But whatever
she did have was actively at
work, feeling the solid tree-
branch under her claws and the
leaves against which her tail
switched and seeing the half-
grown chickens below.
The chickens were scratching
in the forbidden vegetable gar-
den. The cat, the runt of her lit-
ter and thus named Midge, often
had been chased out of the gar-
den herself, but it was no sense
of justice which now set her little
gray behind to wriggling in prep-
aration for her leap. It was mis-
chief, pure and simple, which mo-
Midge leaped, and the visitor,
who had made the journey be-
tween dimensions without losing
consciousness, blacked out.
When he revived, he was being
rocketed along in an up-and-
down and at the same time side-
ward series of motions which got
him all giddy. With an effort he
oriented himself so that the cat’s
vision became his, and he watch-
ed in distaste as the chickens
scurried, scrawny wings lifted
and beaks achirp, this way and
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
that to escape the monstrous cat.
The cat never touched the
chickens; she was content to chase
them. When she had divided the
flock in half, six in the pea patch
and six under the porch, she lay
down in the shade of the front
steps and reflectively licked a
The spy got the impression of
reflection, but he was baffledly
unable to figure out what the cat
was reflecting on. Midge in turn
licked a paw, rolled in the dust,
arched her back against the warm
stone of the steps and snapped
cautiously at a low-flying wasp.
She was a contented cat. The im-
pression of contentment came
through very well.
The dimension traveler got
only one other impression at the
moment— one of languor.
The cat, after a prodigious pink
yawn, went to sleep. The trav-
eler, although he had never
known the experience of volun-
tary unconsciousness, was tempt-
ed to do the same. But he fought
against the influence of his host
and, robbed of vision with the
closing of the cat’s eyes, he medi-
He had been on Earth less than
ten minutes, but his meditation
consisted of saying to himself in
his own way that if he was ever
going to get anything done, he’d
better escape from this cat’s
He accomplished that a few
minutes later, when there was a
crunching of gravel in the drive-
way and a battered Plymouth
stopped and a man stepped out.
Midge opened her eyes, crept up
behind a row of stones border-
ing the path to the driveway and
jumped delicately out at the man,
who tried unsuccessfully to gather
her into his arms.
Through the cat’s eyes from
behind the porch steps, where
Midge had fled, the traveler took
stock of the human being it was
about to inhabit:
And no mind-screen.
The traveler traveled and in an
instant he was looking down
from his new height at the gray
undersized cat. Then the screen
door of the porch opened and a
female human being appeared.
W ITH the male human im-
pressions now his, the trav-
eler experienced some interesting
sensations. There was a body-to-
body togetherness apparently
called “gimmea hug” and a
“Hmm,” thought the traveler,
in his own way. “Hmm.”
The greeting ceremony was fol-
lowed by one that had this cate-
Then came the “eating.”
This eating, something he had
never' done, was all right, he de-
cided. He wondered if cats ate.
too. Yes, Midge was under the
gas stove, chewing delicately at
a different kind of preparation.
There was a great deal of eat-
ing. The traveler knew from the
inspection of the mind he was
inhabiting that the man was
enormously hungry and tired al-
most to exhaustion.
“The damn job had to go out
today,” was what had happened.
"We worked till almost eight
o’clock. I think I’ll take a nap
after supper while you do the
The traveler understood per-
fectly, for he was a very sympa-
thetic type. That was one reason
they had chosen him for the
They had figured the best applU
cant for the job would be one
with an intellect highly attuned
to the vibrations of these others,
known dimly through the warp-
view, one extremely sensitive and
with a great capacity for appre-
ciation. Shrewd, too, of course.
The traveler tried to exercise
control. Just a trace of it at first.
He attempted to dissuade the
man from having his nap. But his
effort was ignored.
The man went to sleep as soon
as he lay down on the couch in
the living room. Once again, as
the eyes closed, the traveler was
imprisoned. He hadn’t realized it
until now, but he evidently
couldn’t transfer from one mind
to another except through the
eyes, once he was inside. He had
planned to explore the woman’s
‘mind, but now he was trapped, at
Oh, well. He composed himself
as best he could to await the
awakening. This sleeping busi-
ness was a waste of time.
There were footsteps and a
whistling noise outside. The in-
habited man heard the sounds
and woke up, irritated. He opened
his eyes a slit as his wife told the
neighbor that Charlie was taking
a nap, worn out from a hard day
at the office, and the visitor, dart-
ing free, transferred again.
But he miscalculated and there
he was in the mind of the neigh-
bor. Irritated with himself, the
traveler was about to jump to the
mind of the woman when he was
caught up in the excitement that
was consuming his new host.
“Sorry,” said the neighbor.
“The new batch of records I or-
dered came toflay and I thought
Charlie’d like to hear them. Tell
him to come over tomorrow
night, if he wants to hear the sol-
idest combo since Muggsy’s
The wife said all right, George,
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
she’d tell him. But the traveler
was experiencing the excited
memories of a dixieland jfizz
band in his new host’s mind, and
he knew he’d be hearing these
fantastically wonderful new
sounds at first hand as soon as
George got back to his turntable.
They could hardly wait,
George and his inhabitant both.
H IS inhabitant had come from
a dimension- world of vast,
contemplative silences. There was
no talk, no speech vibrations, no
noise which could not be shut out
by the turning of a mental switch.
Communication was from mind
to mind, not from mouth to ear.
It was a world of peaceful silence,
where everything had been done,
where the struggle for physical
existence had ended, and where
there remained only the sweet
fruits of past labor to be enjoyed.
That had been the state of af-
fairs, at any rate, up until the
time of the Change, which was
something the beings of the world
could not stop. It was not a new
threat from the lower orders,
which they had met and over-
come before, innumerable times.
It was not a threat from outside
— no invasion such as they had
turned back in the past. Nor was
it a cooling of their world or the
danger of imminent collision with
The Change came from within.
It was decadence. There was
nothing left for the beings to do.
They had solved all their prob-
lems and could find no new ones.
They had exhausted the intricate
workings of reflection, academic
hypothetica and mind-play; there
hadn’t been a new game, .for in-
stance, in the lifetime of the old-
And so they were dying of
boredom. This very realization
had for a time halted the creep-
ing menace, because, as they
came to accept it and discuss
ways of meeting it, the peril itself
subsided. But the moment they
relaxed, the Change started again.
Something had to be done.
Mere theorizing about their situ-
ation was not enough. It was then
that they sent their spy abroad.
Because they had at one time
or another visited each of the
planets in their solar system and
had exhausted their possibilities
or found them barren, and be-
cause they were not equipped,
even at the peak of their physi-
cal development, for intergalactic
flight, there remained only one
way to travel — in time.
Not forward or backward, for
both had been tried. Travel ahead
had been discouraging — in fact,
it had convinced them that their
normal passage through the years
had to be stopped. The reason
had been made dramatically clear
— they, the master race, did not
exist in the future. They had van-
ished' and the lower forms of life
had begun to take over.
Travel into the past would be
even more boring than continued
existence in the present, they re-
alized, because they would be re-
living the experiences they had
had and still vividly remembered,
and would be incapable of chang-
ing them. It would be both tire-
some and frustrating.
That left only one way to go —
sideways in time, across the di-
mension line — to a world like
their own, but which had devel- -
oped so differently through the
eons that to visit it and conquer
the minds of its inhabitants
would be worth while.
In that way they picked Earth
for their victim and sent out their
spy. Just one spy. If he didn’t
return, they’d send another.
There was enough time. And they
had to be sure.
G EORGE put a record on the
phonograph and fixed him-
self a drink while the machine
The interdimensional invader
reacted pleasurably to the taste
and instant warming effect of the
liquor on George’s mind.
“Ahh!” said George aloud, and
his temporary inhabitant agreed
George lifted the phonograph
needle into the groove and went
to sit on the edge of a chair. Jazz
poured out of the speaker and
the man beat out the time with
his heels and toes.
The visitor in his mind experi-
mented with control. He went a',
it subtly, at first, so as not to
alarm his host. He tried to quiet
the beating of time with the feet.
He suggested that George cross
his Tegs instead. The beating of
time continued. The visitor urged
that George do this little thing
he asked; he bent -all his powers
to the suggestion, concentrating
on the tapping feet. There wasn’t
even a glimmer of reaction.
Instead, there was a reverse
effect. The pounding of music
was insistent. The visitor relaxed.
He rationalized and told himself
he would try another time. Now
he would observe this phenom-
enon. But he became more than
just an observer.
The visitor reeled with sensa-
tion. The vibrations gripped him,
twisted him and wrung him out.
He was limp, palpitating and
thoroughly happy when the rec-
ord ended and George got up
immediately to put on another.
Hours later, drunk with the
jazz and the liquor, the visitor
went blissfully to sleep inside
George’s mind when his host went
He awoke, with George, to the
experience of a nagging throb.
But in a few minutes, after a
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
shower, shave and breakfast with
steaming coffee, it was gone, and
the visitor looked forward to the
It was George’s day off and he
was going fishing. Humming to
himself, he got out his reel and
flies and other paraphernalia and
contentedly arranged them in the
back of his car. Visions of the
fine, quiet time he was going to
have went through George’s mind,
and his inhabitant decided he had
better leave. He had to get on
with his exploration; he mustn’t
allow himself to be trapped into
just having fun.
But he stayed with George as
the fisherman drove his car out
of the garage and along a high-
way. The day was sunny and
warm. There was a slight wind
and the green trees sighed deli-
cately in it. The birds were pleas-
antly vocal and the colors were
The visitor found it oddly fa-
miliar. Then he realized what it
His world was like this, too.
It had the trees, the birds, the
wind and the colors. All were
there. But its people had long
since ceased to appreciate them.
Their existence had turned in-
ward and the external things no
longer were of interest. Yet the
visitor, through George’s eyes,
found this world delightful. He
reveled in its beauty, its breath-
taking panorama and its balance.
And he wondered if he was able
to appreciate it for the first time
now because he was 'Being active,
although in a vicarious way, and
participating in life, instead of
merely reflecting on it. This would
be a clue to have analyzed by the
greater minds to which he would
Then, with a wrench, the vis-
itor chided himself. He was al-
lowing himself to identify too
closely with this mortal, with his
appreciation of such diverse pur-
suits as jazz and fishing. He had
to get on. There was work to be
George waved to a boy playing
in a field and the boy waved
back. With the contact of their
eyes, the visitor was inside the
T HE boy had a dog. It was a
great, lumbering mass of af-
fection, a shaggy, loving, prank-
ish beast. A protector and a play-
mate, strong and gentle.
Now that the visitor was in the
boy’s mind, he adored the animal,
and the dog worshiped him.
He fought to be rational.
“Come now,” he told himself,
“don’t get carried away.” He at-
tempted control. A simple thing.
He would have the boy pull the
dog’s ear, gently. He concentrat-
ed, suggested. But all his efforts
were thwarted. The boy leaped
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
at the dog, grabbed it around the
middle. The dog responded,
The visitor gave up. He re-
Great waves of mute, suffocat-
ing love enveloped him. He swam
for a few minutes in a pool of joy.
as the boy and dog wrestled,
rolled over each other in the tall
grass, charged ferociously with
teeth bared and growls issuing
from both throats, finally to sub-
side panting and laughing on the
ground while the clouds swept
majestically overhead across the
He could swear the dog was
As they lay there, exhausted
for the moment, a young woman
came upon them. The visitor saw
her looking down at them, the
soft breeze tugging at her dark
hair and skirt. Her hands were
thrust into the pockets of her
jacket. She was barefoot and she
wriggled her toes so that blades
of grass came up between them.
“Hello, Jimmy,” she said.
“Hello, Max, you old monster.”
The dog thumped the ground
with his tail.
“Hello, Mrs. Tanner,” the boy
said. “How’s the baby coming?”
The girl smiled. “Just fine,
Jimmy. It’s* beginning to kick
a little now. It kind of tickles.
And you know what?”
“What?” asked Jimmy. The
visitor in the boy’s mind wanted
to know, too.
“I hope it’s a boy, and that he
grows up to be just like you.”
“Aw.” The boy rolled over and
hid his face in the grass. Then
he peered around. “Honest?”
“Honest,” she said.
“Gee whiz.” The boy was so
embarrassed that he had to leave.
“Me and Max are going down to
the swimmin’ hole. You wanta
“No, thanks. You go ahead. I
think I’ll just sit here in the Sun
for a while and watch my toes
As they said good-by, the vis-
itor traveled to the new mind.
W ITH the girl’s eyes, he saw
the boy and the dog run-
ning across the meadow and
down to the stream at the edge
of the woods.
The traveler experienced a sen-
sation of tremendous fondness as
he watched them go.
But he mustn’t get carried
away, he told himself. He must
make another attempt to take
command. This girl might be the
one he could influence. She was
doing nothing active; her mind
The visitor bent himself to the
task. He would be cleverly sim-
ple. He would have her pick a
daisy. They were all around at
her feet. He concentrated. Her
gaze traveled back across the
meadow to the grassy knoll on
which she was standing. She sat.
She stretched out her arms be-
hind her and leaned back on
them. She tossed her hair and
gazed into the sky.
She wasn’t even thinking of the
Irritated, he gathered all his
powers into a compact mass and
hurled them at her mind.
But with a swoop and a soar,
he was carried up and away,
through the sweet summer air, to
a cloud of white softness.
This was not what he had
planned, by any means.
A steady, warm breeze envel-
oped him and there was a tinkle
of faraway music. It frightened
him and he struggled to get back
into contact with the girl’s mind.
But there was no contact. Appar-
ently he had been cast out,
against his will.
The forces of creation buffeted
him. His dizzying flight carried
him through the clean air in swift
journey from horizon to horizon,
then up, up and out beyond the
limits of the atmosphere, only to
return him in a trice to the breast
of the rolling meadow. He was
conscious now of the steady
growth of slim green leaves as
they pressed confidently through
the nurturing Earth, of the other
tiny living things in and on the
Earth, and the heartbeat of the
Earth itself, assuring him with its
great strength of the continuation
of all things.
Then he was back with the girl,
watching through her eyes a but-
terfly as it fluttered to rest on a
flower and perched there, gently
waving its gaudy wings.
He had not been cast out. The
young woman herself had gone
on that wild journey to the heav-
ens, not only with her mind, but
with her entire being, attuned to
the rest of creation. There was a
continuity, he realized, a oneness
between herself, the mother-to-
be, and the Universe. With her,
then, he felt the stirrings of new
life, and he was proud and con-
He forgot for the moment that
he had been a failure.
T HE soft breeze seemed to turn
chill. The Sun was still high
and unclouded, but its warmth
was gone. With the girl, he felt
a prickling along the spine. She
turned her head slightly and,
through her eyes, he saw, a few
yards away in tall grass, a creep-
The eyes of the man were fixed
on the girl’s body and the trav-
eler felt her thrill of terror. The
man lay there for a moment,
hands flat on the ground under
his chest. Then he moved for-
ward, inching toward her.
The girl screamed. Her terror
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
gripped the visitor. He was help-
less. His thoughts whirled into
chaos, following hers.
The eyes of the creeping man
flicked from side to side, then up.
The visitor quivered and cringed
with the girl when she screamed
again. As the torrent of fright-
ened sound poured from her
throat, the creeping man looked
into her eyes. Instantly the vis-
itor was sucked into his mind.
It was a maelstrom. A tremen-
dous conflict was going on in it.
One part of it was urging the
body on in its fantastic crawl
toward the young woman frozen
in terror against the sky. The vis-
itor was aware of the other part,
submerged and struggling feebly,
trying to get through with a mes-
sage of reason. But it was handi-
capped. The visitor sensed these
efforts being nullified by a crush-
ing weight of shame.
The traveler fought against full
identification with the deranged
part of the mind. Nevertheless,
he sought to understand it, as he
had understood the other minds
he’d visited. But there was noth-
ing to understand. The creeping
man had no plan. There was no
reason for his action.
The visitor felt only a compul-
sion which said, “You must! You
The visitor was frightened. And
then he realized that he was less
frightened than the man was. The
terror felt by the creeping man
was greater than the fear the
visitor had experienced with the
There were shouts and bark-
ing. He heard the shrill cry of a
boy. “Go get him, Max!’’
There was a squeal of brakes
from the road and a pounding of
heavy footsteps coming toward
With the man, the visitor rose
up, confused, scared. A great
shaggy weight hurled itself and
a growling, sharp-toothed mouth
sought a throat.
A voice yelled, “Don’t shoot!
The dog’s got him!”
M ERSEY.” The voice sum-
moned the visitor, hud-
dling in a corner of the deranged
mind, fearing contamination.
The eyes opened, looked up at
the ceiling of a barred cell.
“Dr. Cloyd is here to see you,”
the voice said.
The visitor felt the mind of his
host seeking to close out the
words and the world, to return to
There was a rattle of keys and
the opening of an iron door.
The eyes opened as a hand
shook the psychotic Mersey by
the shoulder. The visitor sought
escape, but the eyes avoided those
of the other.
“Come with me, son,” the doc-
tor’s voice said. “Don’t be fright-
ened. No one will hurt you. We’ll
have a talk.’’
Mersey shook off the hand on
“Drop dead,” he muttered.
“That wouldn’t help any-
thing,” the doctor said. “Come
Mersey sat up and, through his
eyes, the traveler saw the doctor’s
legs. Were they legs or were they
iron bars? The traveler cringed
away from the mad thought.
A room with a desk, a chair, a
couch, and sunlight through a
window. Crawling sunlit snakes.
The visitor shuddered. He sought
the part of the mind that was
clear, but he sought in vain. Only
the whirling chaos and the dis-
torted images remained now.
There was a pain in the throat
and with Mersey he lifted a hand
to it. Bandaged — gleaming teeth
and a snarling animal’s mouth —
fear, despair and hatred. With
the prisoner, he collapsed on the
“Lie down, if you like,” said
Dr. Cloyd’s voice. “Try to relax.
Let me help you.”
“Drop dead,” Mersey replied
automatically. The visitor felt
the tenseness of the man, the un-
reasoning fear, and the resent-
But as the man lay there, the
traveler sensed a calming of the
turbulence. There was an urgent
rational thought. He concentrated
and tried to help the man phrase
“The girl — is she all right? Did
I . . . ?”
“She’s all right.” The doctor’c
voice was soothing. It pushed
back the shadows a little. “She’s
perfectly all right.”
The visitor sensed a dulled re-
lief in Mersey’s mind. The
shadows still whirled, but they
were less ominous. He suggested
a question, exulted as Mersey
attempted to phrase it: “Doctor,
am I real bad off? Can . . . ?”
But still the shadows.
“We’ll work together,” said the
doctor’s voice. “You’ve been ill,
but so have others. With your
help, we can make you well.”
The traveler made a tremen-
dous effort. He urged Mersey to
say: “I’ll help, doctor. I want
to find peace.”
- But then Mersey’s voice went
on: “I must find a new home. We
need a new home. We can’t stay
where we are.”
T HE traveler was shocked at
the words. He hadn’t intended
them to come out that way.
Somehow Mersey had voiced the
underlying thoughts of his people.
The traveler sought the doctor’s
reaction, but Mersey wouldn’t
look at him. The man’s gaze was
fixed on the ceiling above the
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
“Of course,” the doctor said.
His words were false, the visitor
realized; he was humoring the
“We had so much, but now
there is no future,” Mersey said.
The visitor tried to stop him. He
would not be stopped. “We can’t
stay much longer. We’ll die. We
must find a new world. Maybe
you can help us.”
Dr. Cloyd spoke and there was
no hint of surprise in his voice.
“I’ll help you all I can. Would
you care to tell me more about
Desperately, the visitor fought
to control the flow of Mersey’s
words. He had opened the gate
to the other world — how, he did
not know — and all of his know-
ledge and memories now were
Mersey’s. But the traveler could
not communicate with the dis-
ordered mind. He could only
communicate through it, and
then involuntarily. If he could
escape the mind . . . but he could
not escape. Mersey’s eyes were
fixed on the ceiling. He would
not look at the doctor.
“A dying world,” Mersey said.
“It will live on after us, but we
will die because we have finished.
There’s nothing more to do. The
Change is Upon, us, and we must
flee it or die. I have been sent
here as a last hope, as an emis-
sary to learn if this world is the
answer. I have traveled among
you and I have found good
things. Your world is much like
ours, physically, but it has not
grown as fast or as far as ours,
and we would be happy here,
among you, if we could control.”
TT'HE words from Mersey’s
throat had come falteringly at
first, but now they were strong,
although the tone was flat and
expressionless. The words went
“But we can’t control. I’ve
tried and failed. At best we can
co-exist, as observers and vicari-
ous participants, but we must
surrender choice. Is that to be
our destiny — to live on, but to
be denied all except contempla-
tion — to live on as guests among
you, accepting your ways and
sharing them, but with no power
to change them?”
The traveler shouted at Mer-
sey’s mind in soundless fury:
“Shut up! Shut up!”
Mersey stopped talking.
“Go on,” said the doctor softly.
“This is very interesting.”
“Shut up!” said the traveler
voicelessly, yet with frantic ur-
The madman was silent. His
body was perfectly still, except
for his calm breathing. The visi-
tor gazed through his eyes in the
only possible direction — up at the
ceiling. He tried another com-
mand. “Look at the doctor.”
With that glance, the visitor
told himself, he would flee the
crazed mind and enter the doc-
tor’s. There he would learn what
the psychiatrist thought of his
patient’s strange soliloquy —
whether he believed it, or any
part of it.
He prayed that the doctor was
evaluating it as the intricate rav-
ing of delusion.
S LOWLY, Mersey turned his
head. Through his eyes, the
visitor saw the faded green car-
pet, the doctor’s dull -black shoes,
his socks, the legs of his trousers.
Mersey’s glance hovered there,
around the doctor’s knees. The
visitor forced it higher, past tyc
belt around a tidy waist, along
the buttons of the opened vest to
the white collar, and finally to
the kindly eyes behind gold-
Again he had commanded this
human being and had been
obeyed. The traveler braced him-
self for the leap from the tortured
mind to the sane one.
But his gaze continued to be
that of Mersey.
The gray eyes of the doctor
were on his patient. Intelligence
and kindness were in those eyes,
but the visitor could read noth-
He was caught, a prisoner in a
demented mind. He felt panic.
This must be the mind-screen
he’d been warned about.
“Look down,” the visitor com-
manded Mersey. “Shut your eyes.
Don’t let him see me.”
But Mersey continued to be
held by the doctor’s eyes. The
visitor cowered back into tlie
crazed mental tangle.
Gradually, then, his fear ebbed.
There was more likelihood that
Cloyd did not believe Mersey’s
words than that he did. The doc-
tor treated hundreds of patients
and surely many of them had
delusions as fanciful as this one
The traveler’s alarm simmered
down until he was capable of ap-
preciating the irony of the situ-
But at the same time, he
thought with pain, “Is it our fate
that of all the millions of crea-
tures on this world, we can
establish communication only
through the insane? And even
then to have only imperfect con-
trol of the mind and, worse, to
have it become a transmitter for
our most secret thoughts?”
It was heartbreaking.
Dr. Cloyd broke the long si-
lence. Pulling at his ear, he spoke
calmly and matter-of-factly :
“Let me see if I understand
your problem, Mersey. You be-
lieve yourself to be from another
world, from which you have
traveled, although not physically.
Your world is not a material one,
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
as far as its people are concerned.
Your civilization is a mental one,
which has been placed in danger.
You must resettle your people,
but this cannot be done here, on
Earth, except in the minds of the
mentally ill — and that would not
be a satisfactory solution. Have
I stated the case correctly?”
“Yes,” Mersey’s voice said
over the traveler’s mental pro-
tests. “Except that it is not a
‘case,’ as you call it. I am not
Mersey. He is merely a vehicle
for my thoughts. I am not here
to be treated or cured, as the
human being Mersey is. I’m here
with a life-or-death problem af-
fecting an entire race, and I
would not be talking to you ex-
cept that, at the moment, I’m
trapped and confused.”
npHE madman was doing it
again, the traveler thought
helplessly — spilling out his know-
ledge, betraying him and "his kind.
Was there no way to muffle him?
“I must admit that I’m con-
fused myself,” Dr. Cloyd said.
“Humor me for a moment while
I think out loud. Let me consider
this in my own framework, first,
and then in yours, without label-
ing either one absolutely true or
“You see,” the doctor went on,
“this is a world of vitality. My
world — Earth. Its people are
strong. Their bodies are devel-
oped as well as their minds.
There are some who are not so
strong, and some whose minds
have been injured. But for the
most part, both the mind and the
body are in balance. Each has
its function, and they work to-
gether as a coordinated whole.
My understanding of your world,
on the other hand, is that it’s in
a state of imbalance, where the
physical has deteriorated almost
to extinction and the mind has
been nurtured in a hothouse at-
mosphere. Where, you might say,
the mind has fed on the decay of
“No,” said Mersey, voicing the
traveler’s conviction. “You paint
a highly distorted picture of our
“I theorize, of course,” Dr.
Cloyd agreed. “But it’s a valid
theory, based on intimate know-
ledge of my own world and what
you’ve told me of yours.”
“You make a basic error, I
think,” Mersey said, speaking for
the unwilling visitor. “You as-
sume that I have been able to
make contact only with this de-
ranged mind. That is wrong. I
have shared the experiences of
many of you — a man, a boy, a
woman about to bear a child.
Even a cat. And with each of
these, my mind has been per-
fectly attuned. I was able to
share and enjoy their experiences,
their pleasures, to love with them
and to fear, although they had
no knowledge of my presence.
“Only since I came to this poor
mind have I failed to achieve true
empathy. I have been shocked
by his madness and I’ve tried to
resist it, to help him overcome it.
But I’ve failed and it apparently
has imprisoned me. Whereas I
was able to leave the minds of the
others almost at will, with poor
Mersey I’m trapped. I can’t
transfer to you, for instance, as
I could normally from another.
If there’s a way out, I haven’t
found it. Have you a theory for
In spite of his distress at these
revelations, the traveler was in-
trigued, now that they had been
voiced for him, and he was eager
to hear Dr. Cloyd’s interpretation
The psychiatrist took a pipe
out of his pocket, filled it, lighted
it and puffed slowly on it until
it was drawing well.
“Continuing to accept your
postulate that you’re not Mersey,
but an alien inhabiting his mind,”
the doctor said finally, “I can
enlarge on my theory without
changing it in any basic way.
“Your world is not superior to
ours, much as it may please you
to believe that it is. Nature con-
sists of a balance, and that bal-
ance must hold true whether in
Sioux City, or Mars, or in the
fourth dimension, or in your
world, wherever that may be.
Your world is out of balance.
Evidently it has been going out
of balance for some time.
“Your salvation lies not in
further evolution in your world —
since your way of evolving
proved wrong, and may prove
fatal — but in a change in course,
back along the evolutionary path
to a society which developed
naturally, with the mind and the
body in balance. That society is
the one you have found here, in
our world. You found it pleasant
and attractive, you say, but that
doesn’t mean you’re suited to it.
“Nature’s harsh rules may
have operated to let you observe
,a way of life here that you enjoy,
but to exclude you otherwise —
except from a mind that is not
well. In nature’s balance, it could
be that the refuge on this world
most closely resembling your
needs is in the mind of the psy-
chotic. One conclusion could be
that your race is mentally ill —
by our standards, if not by yours
— and that the type of person
here most closely approximating
your way of life is one with a
'TVR. Cloyd paused. Mersey had
no immediate reply.
The traveler made use of the
silence to consider this plausible,
but frightening theory. To ac-
cept the theory would be to ac-
cept a destiny of madness here
on this world, although the doctor
had been kind enough to draw a
distinction between madness in
one dimension and a mere lack
of natural balance in another.
Mersey again seized upon the
traveler’s mind and spoke its
thoughts. But as he spoke, he
voiced a conclusion which the
traveler had not yet admitted
even to himself.
“Then the answer is inescapa-
ble,” Mersey said, his tone flat
and unemotional. “It is theoreti-
cally possible for all of our people
to migrate to this world and find
refuge of a sort. But if we estab-
lished ourselves in the minds of
your normal people, we’d be,
without will. As mere observers,
we’d become assimilated in time,
and thus extinguished as a sep-
arate race. That, of course, we
could not permit. And if we
settled in the minds most suitable
to receive us, we would be in the
minds of those who by your
standards are insane — whose des-
tiny is controlled by the others.
Here again we could permit no
“That alone would be enough
to send me back to my people to
report failure. But there is some-
thing more — something I don’t
think you will believe, for all your
ability to synthesize acceptance
of another viewpoint.”
“And what is that?”
“First I must ask a question.
In speaking to me now, do you
still believe yourself to be ad-
dressing Mersey, your fellow
human being, and humoring him
in a delusion? Or do you think
you are speaking through him to
me, the inhabitant of another
world who has borrowed his
HPHE doctor smiled and took
time to relight his pipe.
“Let me answer you in this
way,” he said. “If I were con-
vinced that Mersey was merely
harboring a delusion that he was
inhabited by an alien being, I
would accept that situation clini-
cally. I would humor him, as
you put it, in the hope that he’d
be encouraged to talk freely and
perhaps give me a clue to his
delusion so I could help him lose
it. I would speak to him — or to
you, if that were his concept of
himself — just as I am speaking
“On the other hand, if I were
convinced by the many unusual
nuances of our conversation that
the mind I was addressing actu-
ally was that of an alien being —
I would still talk to you as I am
The doctor smiled again. “I
trust I have made my answer
The visitor’s reaction was
spoken by Mersey. “On the con-
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
txary, you have unwittingly told
me what I want to know. You’d
want your answer to be satisfac-
tory if you were speaking to
Mersey, the lunatic. But because
you’d take delight in disconcert-
ing me by scoring a point —
something you wouldn’t do with
a patient — you reveal acceptance
of the fact that I am not Mersey.
Your rules would not permit you
to give him an unsatisfactory
“Not quite,” contradicted Dr.
Cloyd, still smiling. “To Mersey,
my patient, troubled by his de-
lusion and using all his craft to
persuade both of us of its reality,
the unsatisfactory answer would
be the satisfactory one.”
M ERSEY’S voice laughed.
“Dr. Cloyd, I salute you. I
will leave your world with a tre-
mendous respect for you — and
completely unsure of whether you
believe in my existence.”
“I am leaving, you know,”
Mersey’s voice replied.
The traveler by now was re-
signed to letting the patient be
his medium and speak his
thoughts. Thus far, he had
spoken them all truly, if some-
what excessively. The traveler
thought he knew why, now, and
expected Mersey to voice the
reason for him very shortly. He
“I’m leaving because I must
report failure and advise my
people to look elsewhere for a
new home. Part of the reason for
that failure I haven’t yet men-
“Although it might appear that
I, the visitor, am manipulating
Mersey to speak the thoughts I
wished to communicate, the facts
are almost the opposite. My con-
trol over either Mersey’s body or
mind is practically nil.
“What you have been hearing
and what you hear even now are
the thoughts I am thinking — not
necessarily the ones I want you
to know. What has happened is
this, if I may borrow your
“My mind has invaded Mer-
sey’s, but his human vitality is
too strong to permit him to be
controlled by it. In fact, the
reverse is true. His vitality is
making use of my mind for its
own good, and for the good of
your human race. His own mind
is damaged badly, but his healthy
body has taken over and made
use of my mind. It is using my
mind to make it speak against its
will — to speak the thoughts of an
alien without subterfuge, as they
actually exist in truth. Thus I
am helplessly telling you all
about myself and the intentions
of my people.
“What is in operation in Mer-
sey is the human body’s instinct
of self-preservation. It is utiliz-
ing my mind to warn you against
that very mind. Do you see?
That would be the case, too, if a
million of us invaded a million
minds like Mersey’s. None of us
could plot successfully against
you, if that were our desire —
which, of course, it is — because
the babbling tongues we inherited
along with the bodies would give
The doctor no longer smiled.
His expression was grave now.
“I don’t know,” he said. ‘‘Now
I am not sure any longer. I’m
not certain that I follow you — or
whether I want to follow you. I
think I’m a bit frightened.”
“You needn’t be. I’m going.
I’ll say good-by, in your custom,
and thank you for the hospitality
and pleasures your world has
given me. And I suppose I must
thank Mersey for the warning of
doom he’s unknowingly given my
people, poor man. I hope you
can help him.”
“I’ll try,” said Dr. Cloyd,
“though I must say you’ve com-
plicated the diagnosis consider-
“Good-by. I won’t be back, I
“I believe you,” said the doc-
Mersey slumped back on the
couch. He looked up at the ceil-
'E'OR a long time there was no
sound in the room.
Then the doctor said: “Mer-
There was no answer. The man
continued to lie there motionless,
breathing normally, looking at
“Mersey,” said the doctor
again. “How do you feel?”
The man turned his head. He
looked at the doctor with hos-
tility, then went back to his con-
templation of the ceiling.
“Drop dead,” he muttered.
Current New Books:
Science & Fantasy
■ We carry a full line of all
current American science fic-
tion, as well as a large stock
of scarce out-of-print books in
this field. Back issues of sci-
ence fiction magazines
Open Monday Thru Saturday!
9:30 A.M. to 6:30 P.M. Open
Wednesday Evenings until 8 :00 P.M.
STEPHEN'S BOOK SERVICE
45 FOURTH AVENUE (Cor. 9th St.)
New York 3, New York
(Phone GRomercy 3-6294)
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
The Ice Age (II)
N OT just “once upon a
time,” but at least three
times in the course of the
last 600 million years, our planet
experienced what is now called
an Ice Age. a period of glaciers
in areas normally free of them.
The first of these three glacia-
tions, only very incompletely and
sketchily known to us. took place
in the earliest days of the old,
old Cambrian Period. More like-
ly it was at a time which we
would call “pre-Cambrian,” if
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
there were a hard and fast rule
for placing the dividing line, and
if we could date such distant
events with any precision.
The next glaciation, of which
we know much more, took place
400 million years later, during
the Permian Period.
This period followed the days
of the endless — both in expanse
and in duration — swampy forests
of the Carboniferous Period
which produced most of our coal
beds. The Permian glaciation
was followed, however, by the
three periods which are often
lumped together under the term
“The Age of Reptiles” — the Tri-
assic, Jurassic and Cretaceous
Periods — all in all, about 135
million years long and decidedly
warm. The “Age of Mammals”
or Tertiary Period — the name is
a hangover from the early days
of geology which assumed a total
of four geological periods, of
which this was the third — was of
a total duration of 60 million
years and also obviously warm
And then, after a good round
200 million years of warm clim-
ate, there came the recent Ice
Age which ended only a few
thousand years before the very
oldest records of human history.
T HE great question, asked ever
since even a few of the facts
just recited became known, was
"what caused it?” A set of an-
swers which dominated thinking
for quite some time was based
on the simple reasoning that the
Earth gets its heat from the Sun.
Hence, if we did not get enough
heat at one time, the Sun must
have weakened temporarily, or
else we, for reasons unknown,
had been traveling in a different
In short, either the stove had
not worked right or else we had
been farther away from it.
Last month I gave a survey
of these ideas and why they had
failed to work out, sticking close-
ly to the set of theories which
had astronomical events in mind.
Doing that, I had to disregard
chronological order, else it would
have been a confused story in-
Now for the set of theories
which stayed on Earth. Just as
there had been a simple-minded
idea in the astronomical field (the
Sun is burning out) there was an
equally simple-minded thought
in the geological department.
After all, it was not only the Sun
which was gradually cooling. The
Earth was, too.
Once, the then current theory
ran, the Earth had been a ball
of hot gas and molten rock, a
miniature sun. And although, be-
cause of its much smaller size,
the Earth had formed a solid
cool crust early in its career, it
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
had remained a miniature sun
under that crust for a long time.
In the days of the geological
periods which were past, the
crust did not only receive radiant
heating from the ceiling, it was
also supplied with heat from un-
derneath. As that floor heating
diminished, the crust grew cooler,
for the Sun alone was not enough
to produce the all-over tropical
climate of the past.
The argument broke down as
soon as that older glaciation of
the Permian Period was discov-
ered and confirmed. To make it
completely absurd, somebody
made a little calculation. Sup-
posing that the heat from under-
neath was to provide as many
calories to the surface as the Sun
did, how soon would it become
how hot if you dug down? The
answer was that there would have
to be almost red heat 35 feet
below sea level — far from im-
proving in growth, the roots of
any large tree would be badly
OUBTERRANEAN heat was
^ no answer. But, one might
ask, granted that North America
had had its Ice Age at the same
time as northern Europe, and
granted also that traces of an
Ice Age had been found in the
southern hemisphere, how could
we be sure the Ice Age in the
southern hemisphere had coin-
cided with that of the northern
It was this thought which in-
trigued Monsieur Alphonse Jos-
eph Adh&nar, in everyday life
a professor of mathematics, and
which led to one of the wildest
hypotheses ever to be thrown at
a usually patient public.
But we have to recall a few
elementary facts first. As every-
body has learned at some time
or another, the Earth’s axis is
tilted to the plane of the Earth’s
orbit, and the orbit itself is not a
precise circle but merely a near-
circular ellipse. At the present
time, the Earth is farthest from
the Sun when the northern hemi-
sphere has summer. The slightly
longer distance matters little;
the important thing is that the
tilt of the axis favors the north
at that time of the year.
In the south, things are re-
versed; the South Pole has sum-
mer when the Earth is closest to
the Sun. That, however, also
means that the Earth is moving
a little faster. Therefore the
South Polar summer, while po-
tentially somewhat warmer, is
slightly shorter; the north has
slightly cooler but longer sum-
mers. Conversely, the south has
a colder and longer winter.
Then there is the phenomenon
of the procession of the equinoxes
— we can’t go into detail here —
which has the result that, in
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
vals, the other pole attains the
favored position of the somewhat
Adhemar advanced the idea
that the Ice Age was simply the
time when the North Pole was
in the position which now applies
to South Pole. During those reg-
ularly repeating cycles when the
tilt of the axis pointed the north-
ern hemisphere toward the Sun,
while the Earth was closest, the
north had long and cold winters.
Though the summers were hot-
ter, they were too short to melt
the ice which had accumulated.
And the more the ice accumu-
lated, winter after winter, the
weaker the effect of the summer
on that accumulation.
So far, this was, for the factual
knowledge then available, a
theory that could be seriously
considered. But Adhemar did not
stop there. As the ice accumu-
lated around the unfavored pole,
its weight shifted the center of
gravity of the planet. This would
cause the waters of the surface
to assemble near the cold pole.
Look at the map — the high north
is largely land, but the massive
ice of the south is surrounded by
thousands of miles of sea water.
Then, as the severity of the cold
season slowly shifts from one
pole to the other, the formerly
ice pole melts clear. One summer
the last ice floe disappears down
there . . . and suddenly the cen-
ter of gravity of the planet shifts
and the waters hurry in an in-
• describable flood to the other
During the last shift of the
waters to the north, the mam-
moths were carried from their
tropical homeland into, the ice of
Siberia, where they managed to
live for one season — Adhemar
could not know just how well the
mammoths were adapted to a
cold climate in every detail of
their physiology — and the last
water shift to the south was prob-
ably the Flood of the Bible. The
next shift, Adhemar predicted in
1842, would take place 6300 years
TJF7HILE Adhemar erred on
™ every count, he had intro-
duced an idea which many a geol-
ogist tried to utilize later on : the
notion that what looks like an ice
age may just have been normal
polar winter. But the poles may
have been where they are not
About 1883, the Urania Ob-
servatory in Berlin had reported
after considerable hesitation that
its own latitude seemed to' shift
a bit. The amount was unim-
portant and hardly detectable.
But the fact itself seemed — they
said “seemed” — correct. The ob-
servatory of Pulkova in Russia
was the first to corroborate the
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
strange news. Prague followed
suit. Just to make sure, an as-
tronomer, Dr. Markuse, was
shipped halfway around the
world to the Sandwich Islands
to make measurements from an
It was true. The North Pole —
and. of course, the South Pole,
too — moves a little, some 70 feet
away from its theoretical loca-
tion. It is not a straight-line
movement, but a kind of shiver-
ing — and no jokes about the low
Well, if the poles move a little
now, they might have moved
much more in the past. Look at
a map again, a world map this
time, or better still, a globe. Sup-
posing that at one time the whole
Earth had been turned in such a
way that the North Pole had
occupied the southern tip of
Greenland. That would obvious-
ly have meant an Ice Age for
both North America and Europe.
Supposing that in the preceding
geological period, the North
Pole had been located under
what we now call 60 degrees lati-
tude in northeastern Asia. At that
time the equator would have run
through Texas and Louisiana on
this side of the Atlantic Ocean,
and through Spain and Greece on
the other side.
It would certainly have been
tropical in North America and
' I '’HIS simple example which
just shifts the pole along the
40th meridian does not work out
in reality. For Ireland, England
and North Germany, and, of
course, Scandinavia, were cov-
ered by glaciers, while France and
Spain were not.
But this was the general idea,
set forth, for the first time to my
knowledge, in the Annual Report
for the Year 1901 of the Society
for Geography in Dresden. The
author of this particular paper
was an engineer by the name of
It seemed to Reibisch that the
whole Earth performed a very
slow pendulum movement, swing-
ing in the course of geological
periods north and south, bring-
ing different continents into the
tropics and under the poles. If
you want to visualize what he
meant, take a globe and hold it
between two fingertips which are
placed on Sumatra and Ecuador.
Turn the globe back and forth.
Now, if you can imagine that the
ice cap of the pole slithers back
and forth over the continents and
seas, you know the gist of Rei-
Reibisch followed up his origi-
nal paper with two more publi-
cations in 1905 and 1907 and, in
the latter year, another book ap-
peared which enthusiastically
supported Reibisch. Its author
was Dr. Heinrich Simroth, pro-
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
fessor of zoology at the Univer-
sity of Leipzig.
Prof. Simroth had tried to co-
ordinate Reibisch’s geological
ideas with his own knowledge of
zoology, specifically the distri-
bution of the animals over the
globe, and had satisfied himself
that everything worked out won-
Simroth did something else.
Reibisch had introduced that
pendulum movement as a fact;
Simroth tried to find the reason
for it. His solution: a second
moon of Earth had struck sev-
eral hundred million years before
the first glaciation in pre-Cam-
brian days. This shock had
caused the first movement, and
ever since then, the magnetic field
of the Sun, acting upon the mag-
netic field of the Earth, had tried
to dampen the pendulum move-
ment, until only the slight shiver-
ing of the poles is left now.
Very ingenious, but it has
nothing to do with reality. Even
forgetting Simroth’s “elabora-
tions,” Reibisch’s pendulum just
does not work out. For one thing,
while the European glaciation
would fall between the Tertiary
Period and the present, the North
American glaciation would fall
into the Tertiary. Geologists were
quite sure even in 1907 that they
were simultaneous. Now, thanks
to the carbon- 14 method, we
know they were.
T>UT there was one more
thought. Possibly it was not
the Earth as a whole which made
weird movements, but only the
Earth’s crust or portions of the
crust, floating upon the heavier
magma of the next deeper layer.
When you voice this thought
now, everybody will think at once
of Prof. Alfred Wegener’s theory
of the floating continents, an in-
triguing idea about which one
may say that it almost explains
things. But not quite; there are
lots of difficulties left. Dr. Wege-
ner, however, was not the first
to make the crust of the Earth
wander about the planet.
The first, in 1886, had been a
learned and careful outsider,
Karl Count Loffelholz von Col-
berg, who offered this thought as
a possibility. The next one to
make this suggestion was (strange
coincidence of names) Father
Kolberg, S. J., and the third was
Father Damian Kreichgauer,
S.V.D., who some fifty years ago
published his Die Aequatorirage
in der Geologie which may be
translated as “The Position of
the Equator in Geological His-
tory.” Father Kreichgauer was
interested in the equator as the
title shows, but if you move the
equator, you move the poles, too.
Interestingly enough, Father
Kreichgauer — who wrote before
Reibisch published his works,
even though the publication date
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
is a little later — also assumes that
northern South America and the
East Indies shifted little, if at
all. Otherwise the equator is as-
sumed to have almost “flopped
over” in the course of geological
Since Father Kreichgauer’s
continents can wander off
obliquely, if needed, things work
out far better than with Rei-
bisch’s rigid system. But even so
the glaciations of East and West
cannot be made to coincide. In
reality, they did.
A LL these ideas were not real-
ly explanations, They were
attempts to explain the Ice Ages
away, to show that unknown fac-
tors led to systematic mistakes
in interpretation of the evidence.
But since they all failed, the old
assumption that the whole Earth
was temporarily cooler is still the
simplest and most logical. Nor
did it have to be very much
cooler. Melchior Neumayr of
Vienna showed that a general
reduction of the average tempera-
ture by just 6 to 8 degrees Fahr-
enheit is sufficient.
If every noon and every mid-
night is 6 to 8 degrees F. cooler
than now for a number of cen-
turies, we’ll get the most beau-
tiful glaciation, both in the north
and in the south, both east and
west — and no nonsense about
shifting centers of gravity and
second moons hitting us below
One rather obvious thought
centers upon the enormous cos-
mic dust clouds we see in inter-
stellar space. If our sun with its
planetary system wandered into
such a cloud, the dust would
absorb some of the solar radia-
tion and Earth would receive
less heat. It is really surprising
that it took so long until some-
body actually said so, yet the
idea did not reach print until
about 30 years ago with a paper
by the astronomer Prof. Nolke.
It seems simple, but the diffi-
culties are enormous.
The cosmic dust would absorb
solar radiation, all right. It would
also reflect radiation which would
normally miss the Earth. The
final result might well be an
increase of radiation reaching us!
(In fact, the British Col. De-
launey, writing at about the same
time as Nolke, took this posi-
tion.) More important, the dust
would fuel the Sun, increasing the
output of heat.
It is conceivable that you
might wiggle through by assum-
ing a density of dust in space of
.just the right amount to act as a
shield without increasing the
Sun’s output more than the
shielding. But since the last gla-
ciers vanished only 10,000 years
ago, it would be a reasonable
demand to have the cosmic cloud
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
which caused the Ice Age
pointed out in the sky.
More than thirty years ago,
the geologist Geinitz, who could
be considered the foremost
authority on all the theories re-
lating to the Ice Age, wrote in
the introduction to a heavy vol-
ume on this subject: “The causes
of the Ice Age are unknown.”
Unfortunately, he could use the
same sentence if he wrote now.
But there is one more theory
which I’ll save for the next
month. It cannot be proved, but
it might be true in principle.
T HE item on “pi” brought in a
surprisingly large number of
letters, among them six from cor-
respondents who could not figure
out just how a sentence about
alcoholic drinks and quantum
mechanics was supposed to help
them remember the value of “pi”
to 14 decimal places. I also re-
ceived one letter (from Peter J.
Sutro of Oklahoma City) in
which he predicted that some
readers would ask that question.
I had to admit to Mr. Sutro that
this was my fault.
The clue is, of course, the num-
ber of letters in every word. I
had taken it for granted that the
readers would catch on, if not
at once, at least after about five
minutes had gone by. Now I
assume that everybody but those
six readers did, which isn’t at all
An informative letter about
“pi” came from Dr. James
Stokley of General Electric’s Re-
search Laboratory. First of all,
Dr. Stokley confirmed that the
mnemonic I quoted was actually
coined by Sir James Jeans; it
appeared originally in a letter to
Nature 25 years ago over the ini-
tials J.H.J., which were those of
Dr. Stokley also informed me
that the value of “pi” is now
known to 2040 places. Only thir-
ty years ago, that would have
been the lifetime work of a
mathematician, but times have
changed. The calculation was
accomplished by a group of re-
searchers at the Aberdeen Prov-
ing Ground under W. Barkley
Fritz. Working on their own time
over the Fourth of July weekend
in 1949, and using the ENIAC
computer, they not only derived
the value of “pi” for many more
places than ever before, but also
calculated the value of “e” to
2556 places. Anybody who wants
to know more about this, please
consult vol. 4, p. 11 (June 1950)
of the Mathematical Tables and
Aids to Computation, published
by the National Research Coun-
Several correspondents — first
one in was William Vickrey of
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
552 Riverside Drive, NYC — sent
me another mnemonic for “pi”
which is good for 30 places and
Now I, even I, would celebrate
In rhymes inapt, the great
Immortal Syracusan, rivaled nevermore
Who, in his wondrous lore,
Passed on before,
Left men his guidance
How to circles mensurate.
My personal feeling about this
poem is that it would be easier
to memorize “pi” to 30 places
directly. Acting under the con-
viction that one bad poem de-
serves another, I replied with the
French version which reads:
Quc j’aime a faire apprendre un nom-
brc utile aux sages!
Immortel Archimede, artiste ing€nieur,
Qui de ton jugement peut priser la
Pour moi, ton probleme eut de pareils
For good measure, I added a
German version, constructed in
1878 by the mathematician Wein-
Wie o! dies n ,
Macht emstlich so vielen viele Miih’,
Lernt immerhin, Junglinge, leichte
Wie so zum Beispel dies diirfte zu
When I thought it was all
over, I received a stem-sounding
postcard from Bill Powers of 111
E. Oak Street in Chicago, 111.,
reading: “I wish I could recap-
ture my memory about Sir Jeans’
diabolic mnemonics! However,
invention now of any reliable,
easy phrase is beyond 'what shy
and fumbling aid my present in-
Admittedly very fine and clever
and certainly worth publication.
But I have yet to find a case
where 3.1416 wasn’t good enough.
Space, we are told, is swarm-
ing with meteors. What is their
Robert B. Godwin
2539 Lyndale Ave. So.
Minneapolis 5, Minn.
Astronomers are pretty much
convinced by now that the over-
whelming majority of all the
meteorites which we encounter
have their origin in the Aster-
oid Belt between Mars and
They are believed to origi-
nate from collisions, most of
them glancing blows, between
the smaller asteroids. Since
such glancing blows must also
impart velocity components to
the fragments which are quite
different from the orbits of the
two asteroids that collided, the
fragments must assume entirely
different orbits. In a large num-
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
her of cases, these new orbits
will lead out of the Belt.
If this reasoning is correct,
meteorities should be exceed-
ingly rare beyond Jupiter.
In science fiction it is accepted
as a fact that hard radiation
causes mutations. If this is true,
why have there been no known
cases of mutation from the Hiro-
Could it be that the radiation
caused sterility instead?
6520 West 83rd St.
Los Angeles 45, Calif.
It is a fact that hard radia-
tion causes mutations and this
has been proved in the labora-
tory with fast-hreeding fruit
flies ( Drosophila melanogas-
ler). But it is also true that
Hiroshima and Nagasaki did
not produce a flood of human
There are two guesses in ad-
dition to your own:
One is that the resistance to
mutation-causing radiation is
much higher in mammals than
it is in insects.
The other is that the muta-
tions were so extreme that
they could not have lived and
thus they were miscarried.
When we send manned rockets
out, first to the Moon and then
to Mars and Venus, we have to
include fuel for the return trip.
It might take us years longer to
develop a round-trip fuel and
rocket than a one-way fuel and
round -trip rocket. I would like
to know the chances of finding
fuels on the Moon, Mars and
409 Battery Lane
Bethesda 14, Md.
It is highly unlikely that we
would find substances which
are raw materials for fuels on
the Moon. I can’t say that about
Venus because its surface con-
ditions are still unknown.
Mars has water and sunlight.
By means of solar mirrors op-
erating turbo-generators, we
could break the water down in-
to hydrogen and oxygen and
liquefy these two gases. They
would be a usable fuel combi-
nation. Or else we could only
keep the oxygen in its pure
form and convert the hydro-
gen, utilizing atmospheric ni-
trogen, into hydrazine. Hydra-
zine has many advantages of
pure hydrogen, all of them fall-
ing under the heading of ease
But such processing, which
amounts to a storing of solar
energy, is quite complicated.
When the time comes, we’ll
probably calculate twice wheth-
er it wouldn’t be simpler to
carry along the return fuel.
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
By MARGARET ST. CLAIR
The Kinsey of space was what
he considered himself . . . and
his was not a sterile labor!
Illustrated by JOHN FAY
| EAD IT," said the
spaceman. “ You'll
, find it interesting —
under the circumstances. It’s nof
long. One of the salvage crews
found it tied to a signal rocket
just outside the Asteroid Belt.
It'd been there quite a while.
*7 thought of taking it to some-
body at the university, a historian
or somebody, but I don't suppose
they'd be interested. They don't
have any more free time than
He handed a metal cylinder to
Fox, across the table, and ordered
drinks for them both. Fox sipped
from his glass before he opened
" Sure you want me to read it
now?" he asked. “Not much of a
way to spend our free time."
“Sure, go ahead and read it.
What difference does it make?"
So Fox spread out the emtex
sheets. He began to read.
jT\ATING a diary in deep space
offers special problems. Phil-
osophic problems, I mean — that
immense “When is now?” which,
vexatious enough within a solar
system or even on the surface of
a planet, becomes quite insoluble
in deep except empirically or by
predicating a sort of super-time,
an enormous Present Moment
which would extend over every-
thing. And yet a diary entry must
be dated, if only for convenience.
So I will call today Tuesday and
take the date of April 21 from
Tuesday it is.
On this Tuesday, then, I am
quite well and cheerful, snug
and comfortable, in the Ellis. The
Ellis is a model of comfort and
convenience; a man who couldn’t
be comfortable in it couldn’t be
comfortable anywhere. As to
where I am, I could get the pre-
cise data from the calculators, but
I think, for the casual purposes
of this record, it’s enough to say
that I am almost at the edges of
the area where the prott are said
to abound. And my speed is al-
most exactly that at which they
are supposed to appear.
I said I was well and cheerful.
I am. But just under my eu-
phoria, just at the edge of con-
sciousness, I am aware of an
intense loneliness. It’s a normal
response to the deep space situ-
ation, I think. And I am upborne
by the feeling that I stand on
the threshold of unique scientific
T hursday the 26th (my
days are more than twenty-
four hours long). Today my
loneliness is definitely conscious.
I am troubled, too, by the fear
that perhaps the prott won’t —
aren’t going to — put in an appear-
ance. After all, their existence is
none too well confirmed. And
then what becomes of all my
plans, of my smug confidence of
a niche for myself in the hall of
fame of good investigators?
It seemed like a brilliant idea
when I was on Earth. I know the
bursar thought so, too, when I
asked for funds for the project.
To investigate the life habits of
a non -protoplasmic form of life,
with special emphasis on its re-
production — excellent! But now?
Saturday, April 30. Still no
prott. But I am feeling better. I
went over my files on them and
again it seems to me that there
is only one conclusion possible:
Over an enormous sector in the
depth of space, during many
years, they have been sighted.
For my own comfort, let’s list
the known facts about prott.
First, they are a non-protoplas-
mic form of life. (How could they
be otherwise, in this lightless,
heatless gulf?) Second, their bod-
ily organization is probably elec-
trical. Simmons, who was electri-
cal engineer on the Thor, found
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
that his batteries showed dis-
charges when prott were around.
Third, they appear only to ships
which are in motion between cer-
tain rates of speed. (Whether mo-
tion at certain speeds attracts
them, or whether it is only at cer-
tain frequencies that they are
visible, we don’t know.) Fourth,
whether or not they are intelli-
gent, they are to some extent
telepathic, according to the re-
ports. This fact, of course, is my
hope of communicating with
them at all. And fifth, prott have
been evocatively if unscientifical-
ly described as looking like big
On the basis of these facts, I’ve
aspired to be the Columbus — or,
more accurately, the Dr. Kinsey
— of the prott. Well, it’s good to
know that, lonely and rather wor-
ried as I am, I can still laugh at
my own jokes.
May 3rd. I saw my first prott.
More later. It’s enough for now:
I saw my first prott.
May 4th. The Ellis has all-
angle viewing plates, through 360
degrees. I had set up an auto-
matic signal, ' and yesterday it
rang. My heart thumping with an
almost painful excitement, I ran
to the battery of plates.
There it was, seemingly some
five yards long, a cloudy, whitish
thing. There was a hint of a large
yellow nucleus. Damned if the
thing didn't look like a big
I saw at once why everyone
has assumed that prott are life-
forms and not, for example, mi-
nute spaceships, robots, or
machines of some sort. The thing
had the irregular, illogical sym-
metry of life.
I stood goggling at it. It wasn’t
alarming, even in its enormous
context. After a moment, it
seemed to flirt away from the
ship with the watery ease of a
I waited hopefully, but it didn’t
lyt'AY 4. No prott. Question:
since there is so little light
in deep space, how was I able to
see it? It wasn’t luminous.
I wish I had had more train-
ing in electronics and allied sub-
jects. But the bursar thought it
more important to send out a
man trained in survey techniques.
May 5. No prott.
May 6. No prott. But I have
been having very odd thoughts.
May 8th. As I half-implied in
my last entry, the ideas I have
been having (such odd ideas —
they made me feel, mentally, as
if some supporting membrane of
my personality were being over-
P R O TT
strained) were an indication of
the proximity of prott.
I had just finished eating lunch
today when the automatic signal
rang. I hurried to the viewers.
There, perfectly clear against
their jet-black background, were
three prott. Two were almost
identical; one was slightly smaller
in size. I had retraced over and
over in my mind the glimpse of
the one prott I had had before,
but now that three of them were
actually present in the viewers, I
could only stare at them. They’re
not alarming, but they do have
an odd effect upon the mind.
After several tense seconds, I
recovered my wits. I pressed a
button to set the automatic pho-
tographic records going. I’d put
in plates to cover the whole spec-
trum of radiant energy, and it
will be interesting when I go to
develop my pictures to see what
frequencies catch the prott best.
I also — this was more difficult —
began to send out the basic
“Who? Who? Who?’’ in which
all telepathiq communicators are
I have become reasonably good
at telepathy through practice, but
I have no natural talent for it. I
remember Mcllwrath telling me
jokingly, just before I left New
York, that I’d never have trou-
ble with one of the pitfalls of
natural telepaths — transmitting a
desired answer into the mind of
a subject by telepathy. I suppose
any deficiency has some advan-
I began, to send out my basic
“Who?” It may have been only
a coincidence, but as soon as the
fourth or fifth impulse had left
my mind, all three prott slid out
of the viewing plates. They didn’t
come back. It would seem that
my attempts at communication
alarmed them. I hope not,
When I was convinced that
they would not return for a while,
I began to develop my plates.
Those in the range of visible
light show the prott very much
as they appear to the eye. The
infra-red plates show nothing at
all. But the ultra-violet-sensitive
ones are really interesting.
Two of the prott appear as a
network of luminous lines intri-
cately knotted and braided. For
some reason, I was reminded of
the “elfish light” of Coleridge’s
water snakes, which "moved in
tracks of shining white.” The
third prott, which I assume to
have been the smaller one, gave
an opaque, flattened-ovoid im-
age, definitely smaller than that
of its companions, with a round
dark shadow in the center. This
shadow would appear to be the
large yellow nucleus.
Question; Do these photogra-
phic differences correspond to
organizational differences? Prob-
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
ably, though it might be a mat-
ter of phase.
Further question: If the dif-
ference is in fact organizational,
do we have here an instance of
that specialization which, among
protoplasmic creatures, would
correspond to sex? It is possible.
But such theorizing is bound to
be plain guesswork.
May 9th (I see I gave up dat-
ing by days some while ago.).
No prott. I think it would be of
some interest if, at this point, I
were to try to put down my im-
pression of those “odd thoughts”
which I believe the prott inspired
In the first place, there is a re-
luctance. I didn’t want to think
what I was thinking. This is not
because the ideas were in them-
selves repellent or disgusting, but
because they were uncongenial to
my mind. I don’t mean uncon-
genial to my personality or my
idiosyncrasies, to the sum of dif-
ferences that make up “me,” but
uncongenial to the whole biologi-
cal orientation of my thinking.
The differences between proto-
plasmic and non-protoplasmic
life must be enormous.
In the second place, there is a
frustration. I said, “I didn’t want
to think what I was thinking,”
but it would be equally true to
say that I couldn't think it.
Hence, I suppose, that sensation
And in the third place, there is
a great boredom. Frustration
often does make one feel bored,
I suppose. I couldn’t apprehend
my own thoughts. But whenever
I finally did, I found them
boring. They were so remote, so
incomprehensible, that they were
But the thoughts themselves?
What were they? I can’t say.
How confused all this is! Well,
nothing is more tiresome than to
describe the indescribable.
Perhaps it is true that the only
creature that could understand
the thoughts of a prott would be
M AY 10th. Were the “odd
thoughts” the results of at-
tempts on the protts’ part to
communicate with me? I don’t
think so. I believe they were
near the ship, but out of “view-
shot,” so to speak, and I picked
up some of their interpersonal
I have been devoting a good
deal of thought to the problem
of communicating with them. It
is too bad that there is no way
of projecting a visual image of
myself onto the exterior of the
ship. I have Matheson’s signaling
devices, and next time — if there
is a next — I shall certainly try
them. I have little confidence in
devices, however. I feel intui-
tively that it is going to have to
be telepathy or nothing. But if
they respond to the basic “who?”
with flight . . . well, I must think
of something else.
Suppose I were to begin the
attempt at contact wittf*a “split-
question.” “Splits” are hard for
any telepath, almost impossible
for me. But in just that difficulty,
my hope of success might lie.
After all, I suppose the prott
flirted away from the ship at my
“who?” because mental contact
with me was painful to them.
Later. Four of them are here
now. I tried a split and they went
away, but came back. I am go-
ing to try something else.
May 11th. It worked. My
“three-way split” — something I
had only read about in journals,
but that I would never have be-
lieved myself capable of — was as-
Not at first, though. At my first
attempt, the prott darted right
out of the viewers. I had a mo-
ment of despair. Then, with an
almost human effect of hesita-
tion, reluctance, and inclination,
they came back. They clustered
around the viewer. Once more I
sent out my impulse; sweat was
running down my back with the
effort. And they stayed.
I don’t know what I should
have done if they hadn’t. A split
is exhausting because, in addi-
tion to the three normal axes of
the mind, it involves a fourth
one, at right angles to all the oth-
ers. A telepath would know what
I mean. But a three-way split
is, in the old-fashioned phrase,
“lifting yourself up by your
bootstraps.” Some experts say it’s
impossible. I still have trouble
believing I brought it off.
I did, however. There was a
sudden rush, a gush, of commu-
nication. I’d like to try to get it
down now, while it’s still fresh in
my mind. But I’m too tired. Even
the effort of using the playback
is almost beyond me. I’ve got to
L ATER. I’ve been asleep for
four hours. I don’t think I
ever slept so soundly. Now I’m
almost myself again, except that
my hands shake.
I said I wanted to get the com-
munication with the prott down
while it was still fresh. Already
it has begun to seem a little re-
mote, I suppose because the sub-
ject matter was inherently alien.
But the primary impression I re-
tain of it is the gush, the sudden-
ness. It was like pulling the cork
out of a bottle of warm cham-
pagne which has been thoroughly
In the middle, I had to try to
maintain my mental balance in
the flood. It was difficult; no won-
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
der the effort left me so tired. But
I did learn basic things.
One: identity. The prott are
individuals, and though their des-
ignations for themselves escape
me, they have individual con-
sciousness. This is not a small
matter. Some protoplasmic life-
forms have only group conscious-
ness. Each of the four prott in
my viewer was thoroughly aware
of itself as distinct from the
Two: difference. The prott
were not only aware of identity,
they were aware of differences of
class between themselves. And I
am of the opinion that these dif-
ferences correspond to those
shown on my photographic
Three: place. The prott are
quite clearly conscious that they
are here and not somewhere else.
This may seem either trivial or
so basic as not to be worth both-
ering with. But there are whole
groups of protoplasmic life-forms
on Venus whose only cognizance
of place is a distinction between
“me” and “not-me.”
Four: time. For the prott, time
is as it is for us, an irrever-
sible flowing in one direction only.
I caught in their thinking a hint
of a discrimination between bio-
logical (for such a life-form?
That is what it seemed) time and
something else, I am . not sure
Beyond these four basic things,
I am unsure. I do feel, though it
is perhaps overoptimistic of me,
that further communication, com-
munication of great interest, is
possible. I feel that I may be
able to discover what their opti-
mum life conditions and habitat
are. I do not despair of discover-
ing how they reproduce them-
I have the feeling that there is
something they want very much
to tell me.
jl/JAY 13th. Six prott today.
According to my photo-
graphic record, only one of them
was of the opaque solid-nucleus
kind. The others all showed the
luminous light-tracked mesh.
The communication was diffi-
cult. It is exhausting to me physi-
cally. I had again that sense of
psychic pressure, of urgency, in
their sendings. If I only knew
what they wanted to “talk”
about, it would be so much easier
I have the impression that they
have a psychic itch they want me
to help them scratch. That’s silly?
Yes, I know, yet that is the odd
impression I have.
After they were gone, I ana-
lyzed my photographs carefully.
The knotted light meshes are not
identical in individuals. If the
patterns are constant for individ-
uals, it would seem that two of
the light-mesh kind have been
What do they want to talk
May 14th. Today the prott —
seven of them — and I communi-
cated about habitat. This much
is fairly certain. It would appear
— and I think that from now on
any statement I make about them
is going to have to be heavily
qualified — it would appear that
they are not necessarily confined
to the lightless, heatless depths
of space. I can’t be sure about
this. But I thought I got the hint
of something “solid” in their
Wild speculation: do they get
their energy from stars?
Behind their sendings, I got
again the hint of some other more
desired communication. Some-
thing which at once attracts and
— repels? frightens? embarrasses?
Sometimes the humor of my
situation comes to me suddenly.
An embarrassed prott ! But I sup-
pose there’s no reason why not.
All my visitors today were of
the knotted network kind.
May 16th. No prott yesterday
May 18th. At last! Three prott!
From subsequent analysis of the
network patterns, all had been
here to interview me before. We
began communication about ha-
bitat and what, with protoplasm,
would be metabolic processes, but
they did not seem interested.
They left soon.
Why do they visit the ship,
anyhow? Curiosity? That motive
must not be so powerful by now.
Because of something they want
from me? I imagine so; it is again
an awareness of some psychic
itch. And that gives me a lead
as to the course I should follow.
The next time they appear, I
shall try to be more passive in
my communications. I shall try
not to lead them on to any par-
ticular subject. Not only is this
good interviewing technique, it is
essential in this case if I am to
gain their full cooperation.
M AY 20. After a fruitless wait
yesterday, today there was
one lone prott. In accordance
with my recent decision, I adopt-
ed a highly passive attitude to-
ward it. I sent out signals of
willingness and receptivity, and
I waited, watching the prott.
For five or ten minutes there
was “silence.” The prott moved
about in the viewers with an ef-
fect of restlessness, though it
might have been any other emo-
tion, of course. Suddenly, with
great haste and urgency, it be-
gan to send. I had again that
image of the cork blowing out of
the champagne bottle.
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
I TS sending was remarkably
difficult for me to follow. At
the end of the first three minutes
or so, I was wringing wet with
sweat. Its communications were
repetitive, urgent, and, I believe,
pleasurable. I simply had no
terms into which to translate
them. They seemed to involve
I “listened” passively, trying to
preserve my mental equilibrium.
My bewilderment increased as
the prott continued to send. Fi-
nally I had to recognize that I
was getting to a point where in-
tellectual frustration would in-
terfere with' 4 my telepathy. I .
ventured to put a question, a
simple “Please classify” to the
Its sending slackened and then
ceased abruptly. It disappeared.
What did I learn from the in-
terview? That the passive ap-
proach is the correct one, and
that a prott will send freely (and
most confusingly, as far as I am
concerned) if it is not harassed
with questions or directed to a
particular topic. What I didn’t
learn was what the prott was
Whatever it was, I have the
impression that it. was highly
agreeable to the prott.
Later — I have been rereading
the notes I made on my sessions
with the prott. What has been the
matter with me? I wonder at my
blindness. For the topic about
which the prott was sending — the
pleasurable, repetitive, embar-
rassing topic, the one about which
it could not bear to be questioned,
the subject which involved so
many verbs — that topic could be
nothing other than its sex life.
When put this baldly, it sounds
ridiculous. I make haste to qual-
ify it. We don’t, as yet — and what
a triumph it is to be able to say
“as yet” — know anything about
the manner in which prott repro-
duce themselves. They may, for
example, increase by a sort of
fission. They may be dioecious, as
so much highly organized life is.
Or their reproductive cycle may
involve the cooperative activity
of two, three or even more differ-
ent sorts of prott. -
So far, I have seen only the two
sorts, those with the solid nu-
cleus, and those with the intricate
network of light. That does not
mean there may not be other
But what I am driving at is
this: The topic about which the
prott communicated with me to-
day is one which, to the prott,
has the same emotional and psy-
chic value that sex has to proto-
(Somehow, at this point, I am
reminded of a little anecdote of
my grandmother’s. She used to
say that there are four things in
a dog’s life which it is important
for it to keep in mind, one for
each foot. The things are food,
food, sex, and food. She bred
dachshunds and she knew. Ques-
tion: does my coming up with
this recollection at this time mean
that I suspect the prott’s copu-
latory activity is also nutritive,
like the way in which ameba con-
jugate? Their exchange of nuclei
seems to have a beneficial effect
on their metabolism.)
Be that as it may, I now have
a thesis to test in my dealings
with the prott! *
May 21. There were seven
prott in the viewer when the sig-
nal rang. While I watched, more
and more arrived. It was impos-
sible to count them accurately,
but I think there must have been
at least fifteen.
They started communicating
almost immediately. Not wanting
to disturb them with directives,
I attempted to “listen” passively,
but the effect on me was that of
being caught in a crowd of people
all talking at once. After a few
minutes, I was compelled to ask
them to send one at a time.
From then on, the sending was
Orderly, but incomprehensible.
So much so that, at the end of
some two hours, I was forced to
break off the interview.
It is the first time I have ever
done such a thing.
Why did I do it? My motives
are not entirely clear even to my-
self. I was trying to receive pas-
sively, keeping in mind the the-
ory I had formed about the
prott’s communication. (And let
me say at this point that I have
found nothing to contradict it.
Nothing whatever.) Yet, as time
passed, my bewilderment in-
creased almost painfully. Out of
the mass of chaotic, repetitive
material presented to me, I was
able to form not one single clear
I would not have believed that
a merely intellectual frustration
could be so difficult to take.
The communication itself was
less difficult than yesterday. I
I have begun to lose weight.
J UNE 12th. I have not made an
entry in my diary for a
long time. In the interval, I have
had thirty-six interviews with
What emerges from these ses-
sions, which are so painful and
frustrating to me, so highly en-
joyed by the prott?
First, communication with
them has become very much eas-
ier. It has become, in fact, too
easy. I continually find their
•thoughts intruding on me at times
when I cannot welcome them —
when I am eating, writing up my
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
notes, or trying to sleep. But the
strain of communication is much
less and I suppose that does con-
stitute an advance.
Second, out of the welter of
material presented to me, I have
at last succeeded in forming one
fairly clear idea. That is that the
main topic of the prott’s commu-
nication is a process that could
be represented verbally as — ing
the — . I add at once that the
blanks do not necessarily repre-
sent an obscenity. I have, in fact,
no idea what they do represent.
(The phrases that come into
my mind in this connection are
‘‘kicking the bucket” and “bell-
ing the cat.” It may not be with-
out significance that one of these
phrases relates to death and the
other to danger. Communication
with prott is so unsatisfactory
that one cannot afford to neglect
any intimations that might clar-
ify it. It is possible that — ing
the — is something which is po-
tentially dangerous to prott, but
that’s only a guess. I could have it
all wrong, and I probably do.)
At any rate, my future course
has become clear. From now on
I will attempt, by every mental
means at my disposal, to get the
prott to specify what — ing the
— is. There is no longer any fear
of losing their cooperation. Even
as I dictate these words to the
playback, they are sending more
material about — ing the — to me.
J UNE 30. The time has gone
very quickly, and yet each
individual moment has dragged.
I have had fifty-two formal inter-
views with prott — they appear in
crowds ranging from fifteen to
forty or so — and countless infor-
mal ones. My photographic rec-
ord shows that more than ninety
per cent of those that have ap-
peared have been of the luminous
In all this communication, what
have I learned? It gives me a sort
of bitter satisfaction to say :
“Nothing at all.”
I am too chagrined to go on.
July 1. I don’t mean that I
haven’t explored avenue after
avenue. For instance, at one time
it appeared that — ing the — had
something to do with the inter-
sections of the luminous network
in prott of that sort. When I at-
tempted to pursue this idea, I
met with a negative that seemed
amused as well as indignant.
They indicated that — ing the
— was concerned with the whit-
ish body surfaces, but when I
picked up the theme, I got an-
other negative signal. And so on.
I must have attacked the prob-
lem from fifty different angles,
but I had to give up on all of
— ing the — , it would appear,
is electrical, non-electrical, soli-
tary, dual, triple, communal, con-
stant, never done at all. At one
time I thought that it might ap-
ply to any pleasurable activity,
but the prott signaled that I was
all wrong. I broke that session off
Outside of their baffling com-
munications on the subject of
— ing the — , I have learned al-
most nothing from the prott.
(How sick I am of them and
their inane, vacuous babbling!
The phrases of our communica-
tion ring in my mind for hours
afterward. They haunt me like
a clinging odor or stubbornly lin-
During one session, a prott
(solid nucleus, I think, but I am
not sure) informed me that they
could live under a wide variety
of conditions, provided there was
a source of radiant energy not
too remote. Besides that scrap of
information, I have an impres-
sion that they are grateful to me
for listening to them. Their feel-
ings, I think, could be expressed
in the words “understanding and
I don’t know why they think
so, I’m sure. I would rather com-
municate with a swarm of dog-
fish, which are primitively tele-
pathic, than listen to any more
I have had to punch another
hole in my wristwatch strap to
take up the slack. This makes
the third one.
July 3rd. It is difficult for me
to use the playback, the prott
are sending so hard. I have
scarcely a moment’s rest from
their communications, all con-
cerned with the same damned
subject. But I have come to a
resolve: I am going home.
Yes, home. It may be that I
have failed in my project, be-
cause of inner weaknesses. It may
be that no man alive could have
accomplished more. I don’t know.
But I ache to get away from
them and the flabby texture of
their babbling minds. If only
there were some way of shutting
them off, of stopping my mental
ears against them temporarily, I
think I could stand it. But there
I’m going home. I’ve started
putting course data in the com-
J ULY 4th. They say they are
going back with me. It seems
they like me so much, they don’t
want to be without me.
I will have to decide.
July 12th. It is dreadfully hard
to think, for they are sending
I am not so altruistic, so un-
selfish, that I would condemn my-
self to a lifetime of listening to
prott if I could get out of it. But
suppose I ignore the warnings of
instinct, the dictates of con-
science, and return to Earth, any-
how — what will be the result?
The prott will go with me. I
will not be rid of them. And I
will have loosed a wave of prott
They want passionately to send
about — ing the — . They have
discovered that Earthmen are po-
tential receptors. I have myself
to blame for that. If I show them
the way to Earth . . .
The dilemma is inherently
comic, I suppose. It is none the
less real. Oh, it is possible that
there is some way of destroying
prott, and that the resources of
Earth intelligence might discover
it. Or, failing that, we might be
able to work out a way of living
with them. But the danger is too
great; I dare not ask my planet
to face it. I will stay here.
The Ellis is a strong, comfort-
able ship. According to my cal-
culations, there is enough air,
water and food to last me the
rest of my natural life. Power —
since I am not going back — I
have in abundance. I ought to get
along all right.
Except for the prott. When I
think of them, my heart contracts
with despair and revulsion. And
yet — a scientist must be honest —
it is not all despair. I feel a little
sorry for them, a little flattered at
their need for me. And I am not,
even now, altogether hopeless.
Perhaps some day — some day — I
shall understand the prott.
I am going to put this diary in
a permaloy cylinder and jet it
away from the ship with a signal
rocket. I can soup up the rocket’s
charge with power from the fuel
tanks. I have tried it on the cal-
culators, and I think the rocket
can make it to the edge of the
gravitational field of the Solar
Good-by, Earth. I am doing it
for you. Remember me.
F OX put the last page of the
manuscript down. “ The poor
bastard ,” he said.
“Yeah, the poor bastard. Sit-
ting out there in deep space, year
after year, listening to those
things bellyaching, and thinking
what a savior he was”
“I can’t say I feel much sym-
pathy for him, really. I suppose
they followed the signal rocket
“Yeah. And then they in-
creased. Oh, he fixed it, all right.”
There was a depressed silence.
Then Fox said, “I’d better go.
They said good-by to each
other on the curb. Fox stood wait-
ing, still not quite hopeless. But
after a moment the hateful voice
within his head bejgan:
“ I want to tell you more about
— ing the — ”
—MARGARET ST. CLAIR
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
( Continued from page 3)
eyed — notions survive.
If you believe that close-set
eyes and lobeless ears constitute
the criminal type, you can thank
Lombroso for selling you a pseu-
do-scientific pup. Its vogue is
over, thank God, but for a while
he almost proved it — social re-
jection drove many citizens into
crime because they were afflicted
with these characteristics!
The insane conviction that
genius is insanity forges right on,
however. Maladjustment may
push a gifted person into some
endeavor in which he displays
genius, but an emotionally crip-
pled genius is only part of a
genius. Cure his illness, liberate
him, and he must function more
ably. But geniuses and non-gen-
iuses took Lombroso literally,
and still do, for that matter.
War is an integral part of
mankind; it is ineradicable.
As I’ve stated before, we’d be
in a worse mess than now if we
hadn’t fought our just wars.
Nevertheless, war is inflicted on
humanity, not sought because, as
the Nazis remorsely insisted, it’s
the highest goal of civilization.
Even after the most intensive in-
doctrination any modern nation
has received, Germany was in a
state of panic in 1939 that was
resolved by the reality of war.
I disagree with William James
that a “moral equivalent” for
war must be found before we
can have permanent peace. It’s a
political and economic expedient,
not a psychic need. When those
expedients are no longer neces-
sary, war will vanish and nothing
need take its place.
Human nature cannot change.
Definition, please! “Human
nature” is a term without mean-
ing; it lumps all groups in one
inchoate mass, disregarding cul-
tural goals, religions, economic
setup, level of civilization, every-
thing that distinguishes one
branch of humanity from an-
This gaseous quality called
human nature may not change,
but people do — individuals as
well as groups. We’ve left sla-
very and feudalism behind; we
inhabit this planet from pole to
equator; we’re idolator and mon-
otheist; carnivore, herbivore and
omnivore; pacifist and militarist;
selfish and idealistic.
Man, in other words, is in-
finitely adaptable. He’ll go to
the stars and he’ll change to
meet their requirements. He will
also stay on Earth and learn to
live in a Galactic Federation.
The Earth is flat; the stars are
lamps; the Sun circles the Earth
— all were once common sense.
How many of our “common
sense” concepts are also pure
— H. L. COLD
THE QUEST FOR UTOPIA,
edited by Glenn Ne&ley and J.
Max Patrick. Henry Schuman,
New York, 1952. 608 pa^es, $6.75
T HIS is the definitive book on
utopias for the science fiction
lover’s collection. It is genuinely
scholarly without being in the
least degree dull, authoritative
without being pretentious. And it
is crammed full of perfectly won-
Practically all of the utopias
included are much abbreviated;
but this in itself is a merit.
Utopians in general are weari-
somely wordy, and Negley and
Patrick have done a highly crea-
tive job of excerpting. In addi-
tion, they have modernized and
sometimes “translated” the an-
tique language of the older ex-
amples in such fashion as to
retain their old-world charm
while giving them greater clarity.
Utopias available in modern
editions are not included, in
order to keep the book within
reasonable size limits. However,
these works are given thorough
critical evaluation in the editors’
informative and pleasantly writ-
ten biographical-historical notes.
Oddly, the modem Utopians,
from Ignatius Donnelly, whose
truly science fiction Caesar’s
Column (1892) is effectively ex-
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
cerpted, to Conde Pallen’s vio-
lently reactionary Crucible
Island, in 1919, come first. Then
the classicists, from Thomas
More to Etienne Cabet, with his
dull, idealistic Voyage to Icaria,
come next. Finally, there is a
return to contemporary utopian
thought, with a 10-page summary
of current stuff up to and in-
cluding Orwell, C. S. Lewis, and
B. F. Skinner, whose Walden
Two (1948) is given quite a
going-over by the editors.
In all, a valuable job. The
modern reader cannot fully ap-
preciate good contemporary
science fiction stories unless he
has some knowledge of the his-
torical trend of utopian thought
and of the highlights of utopian
writing. This book will give him
that knowledge, and very plea-
FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE
by Isaac Asimov. Gnome Press,
New York, 1952. 247 pages, $2.75
TTERE is the second book of
what eventually will be a
three-volume history of the First
and Second Foundations, and of
the Galactic Empire which these
odd organizations of psycho-
historian Hari Seldon, these oases
of science in the midst of a desert
of galactic worlds returning to
barbarism, strove to bring back
to a new culture. The first vol-
ume, Foundation, was reviewed
in the February 1952 GALAXY.
Volume Two takes Asimov’s
remarkable epic through the end
of the first part of the story about
“The Mule,’’ that fantastic mu-
tant who nearly overthrew the
whole Seldon plan.
For those who remember the
series from its original appear-
ance in Astounding Science Fic-
tion, it can be said that it stands
up magnificently. And for read-
ers who are new to it, it can be
reported that this fine swash-
buckling galactic adventure is
based (unlike most such items)
on some extremely hard-headed,
scientific and mature social-po-
litical thinking. Asimov takes his
galactic civilizations up (and
down) much the same culture
steps that our own Earth society
has trod, and this gives his im-
aginative romance a very solid,
TIMELESS STORIES, edited
By Ray Bradbury. Bantam
Books, New York, 1952. 320
pages, 35 $
TF there is anyone around who
thinks creative writing is in
the doldrums in America, he
should have a look at this collec-
tion of 26 tales of the imagina-
tion, edited by one who really
knows good fantasy when he sees
it. Roughly half a dozen tales
★ ★ ★ ★ * SHELF
are by Europeans; the rest are
by Americans and good!
It is a strictly contemporary
collection, too. Outside of Kaf-
ka’s weird and overlong “In the
Penal Colony” and “Inflexible
Logic,” that wonderful straight-
faced farce by the lamented Rus-
sell Maloney, the stories are, I
think, all by authors still living.
Eighteen bear copyright dates
later than 1940.
It would be pointless to list
the whole table of contents here.
Every selection is distinguished,
though two or three seem a bit
Particularly outstanding are
John Steinbeck’s ribald "Saint
Katy the Virgin,” Ludwig Bem-
elmans’ gruesomely charming
“Putzi,” Henry Kuttner’s lovely
“Housing Problem,” J. C. Fur-
nas’ “The Laocoon Complex,”
which is particularly good con-
sidering the nature of the author’s
usual matter-of-fact writing, and
Hortense Calisher’s completely
The only author not included,
whom one automatically would
expect to find in such a collec-
tion, is John Collier. Ray himself
is represented by “The Pedes-
trian,” which was elaborated
from a passage in his novella,
“The Fireman,” published in the
February 1951 GALAXY.
An enchanting collection — and,
at 35^, 1952’s Best Buy!
AWAY AND BEYOND by A.
E. van Vogt. Pellegrini 8s Cuda-
hy, New York, 1952. 309 pages,
C OMES now a new helping of
that very high-spiced, faintly
spoiled caviar that is van Vogt’s
science fiction : nine stories of
the Impossible clutching the Ra-
tional by the throat and aston-
ishing it to death. Very nice, too.
Curiously, the best story in the
book seems to be the one bearing
most closely on reality: that
memorable tale, “Secret Unat-
tainable,” in which a highly cir-
cumstantial story of the invention
— and destruction — of a matter
transmitter in Nazi Germany is
told through the medium of
memos, telegrams, interviews,
letters, etc., from and to notables
like Himmler, Heydrich, Hitler
and also such fictional characters
as Professor Kenrube, the inven-
tor of the process. It is a re-
markably real story that will
stay with you for a long time.
Other tales include “The Vault
of the Beast,” a fruity epic of
Evil Beings on Mars who create
the weirdest robot yet to conquer
Man; “Heir Unapparent,” about
a bad dictator trying to take
over from a good one; “Second
Solution,” a rather fascinating
incident in the van Vogt epic
of the Rulls, the Ezwals, and
Professor Jamieson; and “Asy-
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
lum,” second-best story in the
book from my point of view,
which tells of the first contact
of the Galactic civilization with
Earth through the malign inter-
vention of a pair of vampiric
In general, a book for van Vogt
completists, as well as for lovers
of gee-whizz writing, such as
THE BEST SCIENCE FIC-
TION STORIES, 1952. Edited
by Everett F. Bleiler and T. E.
Dikty. Frederick Fell, Inc., New
York, 1952. 288 pages, $2.95
T HE fourth in this series of
annuals contains 18 stories
from the 1951 magazines. I class
13 as A or better, 2 as B, and 3
as C or less. A truly excellent
The dullest and most preten-
tious part of the book is the
introduction, a heavy-handed
literary survey of the literature
of protest, only slightly con-
nected to the science fiction in
For readers who loved Peter
Phillips’ "Unknown Quantity,”
from the British New Worlds,
it should be pointed out that his
“At No Extra Cost” in this vol-
ume is the same tale.
Other outstanding jobs include
Leiber’s “Appointment in To-
morrow,” (previously antholo-
gized under the title “Poor
Superman!” in Heinlein’s To-
morrow the Stars), Kornbluth’s
“The Marching Morons,” Best-
er’s “Of Time and Third Ave-
nue,” Boucher’s “Nine-Finger
Jack,” and Reynolds’ and
Brown’s “Dark Interlude,” (also
anthologized in the GALAXY
Reader of Science Fiction late
A N unusual item that GAL-
AXY readers might like to
know about deserves mention
here. This is Donald B. Day’s
superb Index to the Science Fic-
tion Magazines (Perri Press,
Portland, Ore., $6.50). This big
book contains a complete listing
of the contents of all the science
fiction magazines by authors’
and artists’ names and by story
titles. The book has already
saved me hours of work and a
goodly number of errors — for
which I can only hope for Mr.
Day the reward of a truly ap-
preciative market which will at
least to some degree repay him
for his efforts.
May we hope also that the
compiler is planning to issue bi-
ennial supplements? The years
1951-1952 have been very fruit-
ful of good — and bad — science
fiction. The need for an index for
these years is even greater than
for earlier decades.
By CLIFFORD D. SIMAK
Hunted down for his strangeness, Vickers found himself hemmed
in with no escape. But there was a way out— into the unknown!
Illustrated by DON SIBLEY
VK7 ORLD industry is backed
against the wall, fighting
an enemy which it cannot iden-
tify. The razor blade industry
has been wiped out by an ever-
lasting blade — buy one and never
have to buy another. A cigarette
lighter, never needing new flints,
never needing fluid, has destroyed
RING AROUND THE SUN
the lighter industry. The light
bulb manufacturers are out of
business because of an everlast-
ing bulb. The auto industry is
threatened by a new car, guar-
anteed to run forever. Housing
interests are faced with extinc-
tion by the introduction of new
houses which are manufactured
to sell at $500 a room.
i4s if all this were not bad
enough, the cold war, in this year
of 1977,' still is going on, com-
plete with incident and insult,
but never quite breaking out into
The Pretentionists are a sign
of this tension — a club move-
ment, spreading rapidly, with the
members of the clubs effecting
a ■ retreat into the past by pre-
tending that they are living in
some other era.
Jay Vickers, a writer, is in-
vited through his literary agent,
Ann Carter, to meet George
Crawford. Crawford, it turns
out, is the head of North Ameri-
can Research, a front for a world-
wide organization of industries
which have banded together to
fight the invisible company or
companies which are producing
the “ everlasting ” items. Craw-
ford is convinced that the “ever-
lasting" companies want to de-
stroy the entire global economic
Crawford wants Vickers to
write a book exposing this threat,
but Vickers refuses. Because of
his refusal, he and Ann quarrel.
Each of them, without realizing
it (and if realizing, not admit-
ting it) are in love with the other.
Ann is angry because he could
have named his price, hut he in-
sists he has a book to finish.
Vickers still remembers a girl
named Kathleen Preston, with
whom he was in love some 20
years before. He has managed to
thrust this memory far back in
his mind, but when the moppet
next door asks him why he isn't
married, it all comes back to
him and he recalls the day that
he and Kathleen had walked in
what seemed to be an enchanted
Vickers and Ann visit an ex-
hibit of the new $500-a-room
houses. The deal is astonishing
— Vickers, for instance, has a
$20,000 home which the company
would accept as a trade-in — and
pay him the difference, over $15,-
000, in cash!
Returning home alone, Vickers
finds Horton Flanders, an eccen-
tric old neighbor, waiting to
spend the evening with him. In
the course of their talk, Flanders
declares that he believes there is
some intervening force which
keeps the world from war, that
this same force some 80 years
before had given the world a kick
in the pants, booting it out of its
rut and sending it at a gallop
along a new road of scientific and
Under Vickers' questioning,
Flanders hints at some reason to
believe there must be reservoirs
of knowledge in the stars and
expresses a belief that Man can
reach out mentally and tap those
After Flanders goes home,
Vickers hears a mouse. There
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
shouldn't be any mice, since the
exterminator had been there that
day. He sees the mouse in a cor-
ner and hurls a paperweight at
it. It comes apart, no mouse, but
some contraption which Vickers
believes may be a spying device.
Vickers starts out in the mid-
dle of the night to try to get out
of Flanders the truth of the hints
which he had dropped, only to
find that Flanders has disappear-
ed and is being hunted by a vil-
The next day Vickers gets a
letter from Flanders apologizing
for causing him inconvenience by
disappearing, but explaining that
it was necessary that he do so.
He recommends that Vickers re-
visit the scenes of his childhood
“so you may see with clearer
Frantically seeking a key to
the mystery which appears to be
centering about him, Vickers
finds in his attic a book of notes,
written many years before, which
indicates that he is somehow dif-
ferent than the normal run of
A friend, of his, Eb, the gar age -
man, comes to warn him that he
is suspected of doing away with
Flanders and that a lynch mob
is forming. Eb tells him he must
get away and has brought along
a new Forever car in which he
can make his escape.
Vickers flees to his childhood
country. Revisiting his old home,
now standing vacant, he finds a
battered top which he had lost
when a boy of eight.
He remembers an incident en-
tirely forgotten until now, that
the top once had taken him, as a
child, into fairyland. Years later,
he and Kathleen Preston had
wandered into that same en-
chanted valley — from which he
had brought home a flower in
He tries to buy another top to
try the trip again, but tops have
gone out of style and there are
none for sale. So he repairs the
ancient one and repaints it, feel-
ing that perhaps it will serve the
Running out of money, he calls
Ann Carter to have her telegraph
him funds. She tells him that
Crawford is searching frantically
Later that night Crawford, who
has had Ann’s phone tapped in
an effort to locate Vickers, shows
up at Vickers' hotel room. He
tells Vickers that the people in-
dustry is fighting are a group of
mutants who are systematically
going about the reduction of
Earth’s economic system as the
first step in building a world in
which the mutant will be the
Cro-Magnon to the normal man’s
Neanderthal. He says that Vick-
ers is an unsuspecting mutant,
pleads with him to work together
RING AROUND THE SUN
in reaching an understanding be-
tween the mutants and the nor-
mal humans to avert war. He
hints that Ann Carter also is a
mutant, likewise not aware of
Crawford says the normal hu-
mans have a secret weapon which
they will not hesitate to use to
smash the mutants. All of this
baffles Vickers and makes him
feel helpless , for he has not been
in contact with any mutants and
certainly not with their organi-
zation. And he is afraid of Craw-
ford, who is even more afraid of
Vickers — which makes him all
the more dangerous.
W HEN he could hear Craw-
ford’s footfalls no longer,
Vickers went to the telephone and
lifted it and gave a number, then
waited for the connection to be
He’d have to tell Ann fast. He
couldn’t waste much time, for
Crawford’s wire tappers would be
listening. She must be out and
gone before they could reach her
He’d say: “Will you do some-
thing for me, Ann? Will you do
it without question, without ask-
He’d say: “You remember that
place where you asked about the
stove? I’ll meet you there.”
Then he’d say: “Get out of
your apartment. Get out and
hide. Stay out of sight. Right
this minute. Not an hour from
now. Not five minutes. Not a
minute. Hang up this phone and
It would have to be fast. It
would have to be sure. It would
have to be blind.
He couldn’t say, “Ann, you’re
a mutant,” then have her want
to know what a mutant was and
how he came to know and what
it meant, while all the time the
listeners would be moving to-
ward her door.
She had to go on faith. But
Thinking of how she might
want to argue, how she might
not want to go without a reason
for her going, he felt the moisture
trickle out of his armpits and run
down his ribs.
The phone was ringing now.
He tried to recall what her apart-
ment looked like, how the phone
sat on the table at the end of the
davenport, and how she would be
coming across the room to lift
the receiver, and in a moment he
would hear her voice.
The operator said, “That num-
ber doesn’t answer, sir.”
“Try this one, then,” he said,
giving the operator the number
of her office.
He waited again and heard the
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
“That number doesn’t answer,
sir,” the operator finally said.
“Thank you,” said Vickers.
“Shall I try again?”
“No,” said Vickers. “Cancel
the call, please.”
He had to think and plan. He
had to try to figure out what it
was all about. Before this, it had
been easy to seek refuge in the
belief that it was imagination,
that he and the world were half
insane, that everything would be
all right if he’d just ignore what-
ever might be going on.
He couldn’t believe it any
For now he must accept at face
value the story that Crawford
had told, sitting . in this room,
with his massive bulk bulging in
the chair, with his face unchang-
ing and his voice a flat monotone
that pronounced threats, but gave
them no inflection and also no
He must believe in human mu-
tation and in a world divided
and embattled. He must believe
even in the fairyland of child-
hood, for if he actually was a
mutant, then fairyland somehow
was a mark of it.
H E tried to tie together the
implications of Crawford’s
story, tried to understand what
it all might mean, but there
were too many ramifications, too
many random factors, too much
he did not know.
There was a world of mutants,
men and women who were more
than normal, persons who had
certain human talents and cer-
tain human understandings which
the normal men and women of
the world had never known or,
having known, could not utilize
in their entirety, unable to use
intelligently all the mighty pow-
ers which lay dormant in their
This was the next step up.
This was evolution. This was
how the human race advanced.
“And God knows,” said Vick-
ers to the empty room, “it needs
advancement now if it ever did.”
A band of mutants, working
together, but working undercover
since the normal world would
turn on them with fang and claw
for their very differentness if they
And what was this different-
ness? What could they hope to
do with it?
A few of the things he knew —
Forever cars and everlasting razor
blades and the light bulbs that
did not burn out and synthetic
carbohydrates that fed the hun-
gry and helped to hold war at
arm’s length from the throat of
But what else? Surely there
was more than that.
Intervention, Horton Flanders
had said, rocking on the porch.
RING AROUND THE SUN
Some sort of intervention that
had helped the world advance
and then had staved off, some-
how or other, the bitter, terrible
fruits of progress wrongly used.
Horton Flanders was the man
who could tell him, Vickers knew.
But where was Horton Flanders
‘‘They’re hard to catch,” Craw-
ford had said. “You ring door-
bells and wait. You send in your
name and wait. You track them
down and wait. And they’re never
where you think they are, but
First, thought Vickers, plotting
out his moves, I’ve got to get out
of here and be hard to catch
Second, find Ann and see that
she is hidden out.
Third, find Horton Flanders
and, if he doesn’t want to talk,
choke it out of him.
He picked up the top and went
downstairs and turned in his key.
The clerk got out his bill.
“I have a message for you,”
said the clerk, reaching back into
the pigeonhole that held the key.
“The gentleman who was up to
see you a while ago gave it to
me before he left.”
He handed across an envelope
and Vickers ripped it open, pull-
ed out a folded sheet.
“A funny kind of business,”
said the clerk. “He’d just been
talking to you.”
“Yes,” said Vickers, “it is a
funny kind of business.”
The note read: Don’t try to
use that car of yours. If any-
thing happens, keep your mouth
It was a very funny kind of
V ICKERS drove toward the
dawn. The road was deserted
and the car ran like a fleeing
thing, with no sound but the
whistle of the tires as they hugged
the pavement on the curves. Be-
side him, on the seat, the gaily
painted top rolled back and forth
to the motion of the car.
There were two things wrong,
two immediate things:
He should have stopped at the
He should not have used the
Both, of course, were foolish,
and he berated himself for think-
ing of them. He pushed the ac-
celerator down so that the whistle
of the tires became a high, shrill
scream as they took the curves.
He should have stopped at the
Preston house and tried out the
top. That, he told himself, was
what he had planned to do, and
he searched in his mind for the
reasons that had made him plan
it that way, but there were no
reasons. If the top worked, it
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
would work anywhere and that
was all there could be to it. It
wouldn’t matter where it worked,
although deep inside him was a
feeling that it did matter to him,
at least, where it worked. There
was something special about the
Preston house. It was a key point
— it must be a key point in this
mystery of mutants.
I couldn’t take the time, he
argued with himself. The first
job is to get back to New York
and find Ann and get her out of
For Ann, he told himself, must
be the other mutant, although
once again, as with the Preston
house, he could not be entirely
sure. There was no reason, no
substantial proof, that Ann Car-
ter was a mutant.
Reason* he thought. Reason
and proof. And what are they?
No more than the orderly logic
on which Man has built his
world. Could there be inside a
man another sense, another yard-
stick by which one could live,
setting aside the matter of reason
and of proof as childish things
which once had been good
enough, though clumsy at the
best? Could there be a way of
knowing right from wrong, good
from bad, without the endless
reasoning and the dull parade of
proof? Intuition? That was fe-
male nonsense. Premonition?
That was superstition.
And yet were they really fe-
male nonsense and superstition?
For years researchers had con-
cerned themselves with extra-
sensory perception, a sixth sense
that Man might hold within him-
self, but had been unable to
develop to its full capacity.
And if extra -sensory perception
were possible, then many other
abilities were possible as well —
the psycho-kinetic control of ob-
jects through the power of mind
alone, the ability to look into
the future, the recognition of time
as something other than the
movement of the hands upon a
clock, the ability to know and
manipulate unsuspected dimen-
sional extensions of the space-
IT'IVE senses, Vickers thought —
the sense of smell, of sight,
of hearing, of taste and touch.
Those were the five that Man
had known since time immemo-
rial, but did it mean that was all
he had? Were there other senses
waiting in his mind for develop-
ment, as the opposable thumb,
the erect posture and logical
thinking had been developed
throughout the millenia of Man’s
existence? He had evolved from
a tree-dwelling, fear-shivering
thing into a club-carrying animal,
into a fire-making animal. He
had made, first of all, the sim-
plest of tools, then more complex
RING AROUND THE SUN
tools, and finally tools so com-
plex that they Were machines.
All of this had been done as
the result of developing intelli-
gence. Was it not possible that
the development of intelligence,
the development of the human
senses, was not finished yet? And
if this were true, why not a sixth
sense, or a seventh, or an eighth,
or any number of additional
senses, which would come under
the general heading of the nat-
ural evolution of the human
Was that, Vickers wondered,
what had happened to the mu-
tants, the sudden development of
these additional and only half-
suspected senses? Was not the
mutation logical in itself — the
thing that one might well expect?
He swirled through little vil-
lages still sleeping between the
night and dawn and went past
farm houses lying strangely naked
in the half light that ran on the
Don’t try to use the car, Craw-
ford’s note had read. And that
was foolish, too, for there was
no reason why he should not use
the car. No reason other than
Crawford’s saying so. And who
was Crawford? An enemy? Per-
haps, although at times he didn’t
act like one. A man who was
afraid of the defeat that he felt
sure would come, more fearful,
seemingly, of the commission of
defeat than of defeat itself.
Reason once again.
No reason why he should not
use the car. But he was faintly
uneasy, using it.
No reason why he should have
stopped at the Preston house and
still, in his heart, he felt he had
somehow failed by not stopping
No reason to believe Ann Car-
ter was a mutant, and yet he
was sure she was.
He drove through the morning,
with the fog rising from all the
little streams he crossed, with the
flush of sun against the eastern
sky, with, finally, boys and dogs
going after cows, and the first
traffic on the road.
He suddenly realized that he
was hungry and a little sleepy,
but he couldn’t stop to sleep. He
had to keep on going. When it
became dangerous to drive, he
would have to sleep, but not un-
til then, and then not for long.
But he’d have to stop some-
where to eat. At the next town
he came to, if it had an eating
place that was open, he would
stop and eat. Perhaps a cup or
two of coffee would chase away
HHHE town was large and there
were eating places and people
on the street, the six o’clock fac-
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
tory workers on the way to their
seven o’clock jobs.
He picked out a restaurant
that didn’t look too bad, that had
less of the cockroach look about
it than some of the others, and
slowed to a crawl, looking for a
parking place. He found one a
He parked and got out, locked
the door. Standing on the side-
walk, he sniffed the morning. It
still was fresh, with the deceptive
coolness of a summer morning.
He’d have breakfast, he told
himself, take his time eating it,
give himself a chance to relax,
to let some of the road fatigue
drop from his bones.
lt/|AYBE he’d ought to call
Ann again. This morning he
might catch her in. He’d feel
safer if she knew and if she were
in hiding. Perhaps instead of just
meeting him at the place where
they sold the houses, she should
go there and explain to them
what the situation was and they
might help her. But to explain
that to Ann would take too long.
He had to tell her fast and she
had to go on faith.
He went back down the street
and turned in at the restaurant
door. There were tables, but no
one seemed to be using them. All
the eaters were bellied up to the
counter. There were a few stools
still left and Vickers took one.
RING AROUN D THE SUN
On the left side of him, a
husky workman in faded shirt
and bulging overalls was noisily
slurping up a bowl of oatmeal,
head bent close above the bowl,
shoveling the cereal into hie
mouth with a rapidly moving
spoon that dipped and lifted,
dipped and lifted, almost as if
the man were attempting to es-
tablish a siphoning flow of the
food into his mouth. On the other
side sat a man in blue slacks and
white shirt with a neat black
bow. He wore glasses and he read
a paper and he was, from the
look of him, a bookkeeper or
something of the sort, a man
handy with a column of figures
and very smug about it.
A waitress came and mopped
the counter in front of Vickers
with a wet cloth.
“What’ll you have?” she asked
impersonally, running the ques-
tion together into a single word.
“Stack of cakes,” said Vickers,
“with a side of ham.”
The breakfast came and he ate
it, hurriedly at first, stuffing his
mouth with great forkfuls of
syrup-dripping cakes, with gen-
erous cuts of ham, then more
slowly as the bite of hunger was
The overalled man got up and
left. A girl with drooping eyelids
took his place. Some weary sec-
retary, Vickers thought, with
only an hour or two of sleep
after a night out.
He was almost through eating
when he heard the shouting in
the street outside, then the sound
of running feet.
The girl beside him swung
around on her stool and looked
out the window.
“Everybody’s running,” she
said. "I wonder what’s the
A man stopped outside the door
and yelled, “They found one of
them Forever cars!”
E VERYBODY leaped from the
stools and surged toward the
door. Vickers followed slowly.
They’d found a Forever car,
the shouting man had said. The
only one they could have found
was the one Vickers had parked
just up the street.
They had tipped the car over
and rolled it out into the middle
of the road. They were ringed
around it, shouting and shaking
their fists. Someone threw a brick
or stone at it and the sound of
the object striking its metal
boomed through the early morn-
ing street like a cannon shot.
Someone picked up whatever
had been thrown and heaved it
through the door of a hardware
store. Reaching in through the
broken glass, someone else un-
locked the door. Men streamed
in and came out again, carrying
mauls and axes.
The crowd drew back to give
them elbow room. The mauls and
axes flashed in the slanted sun-
light. They struck and struck
again. Glass shattered with a
crunching sound, then came the
metallic clanging and denting.
Vickers stood beside the res-
taurant door, sick in the pit of
his stomach, his brain frozen
with what later might be fear,
but which now was no more than
astonishment and blind befud-
Crawford had written: Don't
try to use that cars of yours.
This was what he’d meant.
Crawford had known what
would happen to any Forever
car found parked upon the street.
Crawford had known and tried
to warn him.
Friend or foe?
Vickers reached out a hand
and put it, palm flat, against the
rough brick of the building.
The touch of the brick, the
roughness of it, told him that this
was happening, that it was no
dream, that he actually stood
here, in front of a restaurant in
which he had just eaten break-
fast, and saw a mob, mad with
hate, smashing up his car.
The people finally know.
They’ve been told about the mu-
And they hate the mutants.
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
Of course they hate them, be-
cause the existence of the mu-
tants makes them second-class
humans, because they are Nean-
derthalers suddenly invaded by
a bow and arrow people.
He turned and went back into
the restaurant, ready to leap and
run if someone should suddenly
shout behind him, if a finger
tapped his shoulder.
The bespectacled man with the
black bow tie had left the paper
beside his plate. Vickers picked
it up, walked steadily on, down
the length of counter. He pushed
open the swinging door that led
into the kitchen. There was no
one there. He walked through
the kitchen rapidly, let himself
out the rear door into an alley.
He went down the alley, found
another narrow one between two
buildings, leading to an opposite
street. He took it, crossed the
street when he came to it, fol-
lowed another alleyway between
two buildings that led to another
“They’ll fight,” Crawford had
said, sitting in the hotel room
the night before, his big body
filling the chair to overflowing.
"They’ll fight with what they
So now they were fighting,
striking with what they had. They
had picked up their club and
were fighting back.
He found a park and walking
RING AROUND THE SUN
through it. came across a bench
shielded from the street by a
clump of bushes. He sat down
and unfolded the paper he had
taken from the restaurant, turned
its pages back until he found the
And there the story was.
T HE headline said: we are
BEING TAKEN OVER!
The drop read: PLOT BY SUPER
And the deck : Superhuman
Race Among Us; Mystery of
Everlasting Razor Blades Solved.
And the story:
WASHINGTON (Special) - The
greatest danger the human race has
faced in all the years of its exist-
ence— a danger which may reduce
all of us to slavery— was revealed
today in a joint announcement by
the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
the military chiefs of staff and the
Washington office of the Interna-
tional Bureau of Economics.
The joint announcement was
made at a news conference called
by President Humphrey.
Simultaneous announcements were
made in all the other major capi-
tals of the world— London, Moscow,
Paris, Madrid, Rome, Cairo, Peking
and a dozen other cities.
The announcement revealed that
a new race of human beings, called
mutants, has developed, and is
banded together in an attempt to
win domination over the entire
A mutant, in the sense in which
it is here used, is a human being
who has undergone a sudden varia-
tion, the child differing from the
parent, as opposed to the gradual
change by which the human race
has evolved to its present form.
The variation, in this case, has not
been noticeably physical; that is,
a mutant is indistinguishable, so
far as the eye is concerned, from
any other human. The variation has
been mental, with the mutant pos-
sessing certain skills which the nor-
mal human does not have— certain
“wild talents,” the announcement
(See adjoining column for full ex-
planation of mutancy.)
The announcement (full text in
column 4) said that the mutants
had embarked upon a campaign to
destroy the economic system of the
world through the manufacture of
certain items, such as the everlast-
ing razor blade, the everlasting light
bulb, the Forever car, the new pre-
fabricated houses and the items
generally sold in the so-called “gad-
The mutant group, it was re-
vealed, has been under investigation
by various governmental and inde-
pendent agencies for several years
and the findings, when correlated,
showed unmistakably that a definite
campaign was under way to take
over the entire world. The formal
announcement of the situation, it
was said, was delayed until there
could be no doubt concerning the
authenticity of the reports.
The announcement called upon
the citizenry of the world to join in
the fight to circumvent the plot At
the same time it pleaded for a nor-
mal continuation of all activity and
advised against hysteria.
“There is no occasion for appre-
hension,” the announcement said.
“Certain countermeasures are being
taken.” There was no hint as to
what any of these countermeasures
might be. When the reporter at-
tempted to question the spokesman
concerning them, he was told that
this was restricted information.
To aid the world governments in
their campaign against the intentions
of the mutants, the announcement
said that every citizen should take
1— Keep your head. Do not give
way to hysteria.
2— Refrain from using any mu-
3— Refuse to buy any mutant-
manufactured items. Persuade others
against their use or purchase.
4— Immediately inform the FBI
of any suspicious circumstances
which might have a bearing upon
The announcement said that first
suspicions of any attempt at domina-
(Continued on Page 11)
Vickers did not turn to Page
11. Instead, he studied the rest
of the front page.
There was the story which ex-
plained mutation and the com-
plete text of the announcement.
There was a signed article by
some professor of biology, dis-
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
cussing the probable effects of
mutation and its hypothetical
There were a half a dozen bul-
letins. They read:
new YORK (AP) - Mobs today
swept through the city armed with
axes and iron bars. They swarmed
into gadget shops, destroying the
merchandise, smashing the fixtures.
Apparently no one was found in
any of the shops. One man was
killed, but it was not believed he
was connected with a gadget shop.
WASHINGTON (UP) -A mob early
today attacked and killed a man
driving a Forever car. The car was
LONDON (INS) -The government
today threw a heavy guard around
several housing development proj-
ects containing a number of the
prefabricated houses attributed to
“The people who purchased these
houses,” said an explanation accom-
panying the order, "purchased them
in good faith. They are in no way
connected or to be connected with
the conspiracy. The guards were
ordered to protect these innocent
people and their neighbors against
any misdirected public violence.”
St. Malo, France (Reuters) -The
body of a man was found hanging
from a lamp post at dawn today. A
placard with the crude lettering of
"Mutant” was pinned to his shirt
V ICKERS let the paper fall
from his hand. It made a
ragged tent upon the ground.
He stared out across the park.
Morning traffic was flowing by
on the roadway a block away.
A boy came along a walk, bounc-
ing a ball as he walked. A few
pigeons circled down through the
trees and strutted on the grass,
Normal, he thought. A normal
morning, with people going to
work and kids out playing and
the pigeons strutting on the grass.
But underneath it was a cur-
rent of savagery. Behind it all,
behind the facade of civilization,
the present was crouching in the
cave, lying in ambush against
the coming of the future. Lying
in wait for himself and Ann and
Thank God, he thought, that
no one had thought to connect
him with the car. Perhaps, later
on, someone would. Someone
might remember seeing him get
out of the car. Perhaps someone
would fasten suspicion upon the
man who, of all of them, had not
run out of the restaurant and
joined the mob around the car.
But for the moment he was
safe. How long he would remain
safe was another matter.
He considered it.
Steal a car and continue his
RING AROUND THE SUN
He didn’t know how to steal
a car; he would probably bungle
But there was something else
— something that needed doing
He had to get the top.
He had left it in the car and
he’d have to get it back.
But why risk his neck to get
It didn’t make much sense.
Come to think of it, it made no
sense at all. Still, he knew he had
to do it.
Crawford’s warning about not
driving the car hadn’t made
sense, either, at the time he read
it He had disregarded it and felt
uneasy about disregarding it, had
known, against all logic, that he
was wrong in not paying it at-
tention. And in this particular
case, at least, logic had been
wrong and his feeling — his hunch,
his premonition, his intuition,
call it what you would — had
He had wondered, he remem-
bered, if there might not be a
certain sense which would out-
weigh logic and reason, if within
his brain a man might not have
another ability, a divining facul-
ty, which would outdate the old
tools of logic and of reason.
Maybe that was the sense
that told him, without reason,
without logic, that he must get
back the top.
T HE street had been blocked
to traffic and the police were
standing by, although there was
little need of them, it seemed,
for the crowd was orderly. The
car lay in the middle of the
street, battered and dented, with
its wheels sticking into the air.
like a dead cow in a cornfield.
Its glass was shattered and strew-
ed about the pavement, crunch-
ing under the feet of the milling
crowd. Its tires were knocked off
and the wheels were bent and
people stood around and stared
Vickers mingled with the
crowd, moving nearer to the car.
The front door, he saw, had
somehow been smashed open and
was wedged against the pave-
ment. There was just a chance,
he told himself, that the top
might still be there.
If it was, he would have -to
figure out some way to get it.
Maybe he could get down on his
knees and pretend he was simply
curious about the instrument
panel or the controls. He’d tell
his neighbors about how the con-
trol panel differed from that of
an ordinary car and maybe he
could hook in a hand and sneak
out the top and hide it under-
neath his coat without any of
He shuffled about the wreck,
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
gaping at it in what he hoped
was an idly curious fashion as
he talked a little with his neigh-
bors, the usual banal comments
of the onlooker.
He worked his way around un-
til he was beside the door and
squatted down and looked inside
the car and he couldn’t see the
top. He stayed there, squatting
and looking, craning his neck,
and he told his nearest neighbor
about the control panel and won-
dered about the shift, though all
the time he was looking for the
But there wasn’t any top.
He got up again and milled
with the crowd, watching the
pavement, because the top might
have fallen from the car and roll-
ed away from it. Maybe it had
rolled into the gutter and was
lying there. He searched the gut-
ters on both sides of the streets,
and covered the pavement, but
there was no top.
So the tdp was gone — gone be-
fore he could try it out, and now
he’d never know if it could take
him into fairyland.
Twice he had gone into fairy-
land — once when he was a child
and again when he had walked
a certain valley with a girl
named Kathleen Preston. He had
walked with her in an enchanted
valley that could have been
nothing else but another fairy-
land, and after that he had gone
back to see her and had been told
that she had gone away, and he
had turned from the door and
trudged across the porch.
“Now wait!” he said. Had he
turned from the door and trudg-
ed across the porch?
H E tried to remember and,
dimly, he saw it all again,
the soft-voiced man who had told
him that Kathleen was gone and
then had said, "But won’t you
come in, lad? I have something
you should see.”
He had gone in and stood in
the mighty hall, filled with heavy
shadow, with its paintings on the
wall and the massive stairs
winding up to the other stories
and the man had said —
What had he said?
Or had it ever happened?
Why did an experience like
this, an incident that he should
have remembered without fail,
come back to him after all the
years of not knowing, as the lost
memory of his boyhood venture
into fairyland had come back to
him after so long?
And was it true or wasn’t it?
There was no way that he
He turned away and walked
down the street, past the police-
man who leaned against a build-
ing and swung his club, smiling
at the crowd.
In a vacant lot, a group of
RING AROUND THE SUN
boys were playing and he stopped
to watch them. Once he had
played like that, without thought
of time or destiny, with the
thought of nothing but happy
hours of sunshine and the delight
that bubbled up with living, for
the day always ran on forever.
There was one little fellow who
sat apart from all the others. He
held something in his lap and
was turning it around, admiring
it, happy in the possession of a
Suddenly he tossed it in the
air and caught it and the sun
flashed on its many colors. Vick-
ers, seeing what it was, skipped
a breath or two.
It was the missing top!
He left the sidewalk and saun-
tered across the lot.
The playing boys did not no-
tice him or, rather, they ignored
him, after the manner of the
playing youngster for whom the
adult does not exist, or is no
more than a shadowy personage
out of some unreal and unsatis-
Vickers stood above the boy
who held the top.
“What you got?”
“I found it,” said the boy.
“It’s a pretty thing,” said Vick-
ers. “I’d like to buy it from you.”
“It ain’t for sale.”
“I’d pay quite a bit,” said
Vickers, feeling desperate.
The boy looked up with in-
“Enough for a new bicycle?”
Vickers dug into his pocket
and pulled out folded bills.
“Gosh, mister . .
Out of the corner of his eye,
Vickers saw the policeman stand-
ing on the sidewalk, watching
him. The policeman took a step,
started across the lot.
“Here,” said Vickers.
He grabbed the top and tossed
the folded bills into the boy’s lap.
He straightened and ran, heading
for the alley.
“Hey, you!” the policeman
Vickers kept on running.
A gun exploded and Vickers
heard the thin, high whine of a
bullet going high over his head.
R eaching the first of the
buildings in the alley, Vick-
ers ducked around it, into a pas-
sageway between two buildings
and realized that he’d turned in
the wrong direction. The pas-
sageway would lead him back to
the street on which lay the wreck-
ed and battered car.
He saw an open basement win-
dow, gauged his distance and
threw himself feet first through
the window. The sill caught him
in the back and he felt the fire
of pain run along his body. Then
his head smacked into something
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
and the basement was a place
of darkness filled with a million
stars. He came down sprawling
and the wind was knocked out
of him and the top, flying from
his hand, bounced along the floor.
He clawed himself to his hands
and knees and grabbed the top.
He found a water pipe, grasped
it and pulled himself erect. There
was a raw place on his back that
burned and his head buzzed with
the violence of the blow. But he
was safe, at least for a little
He found stairs and climbed
them and saw that he was in the
back room of a hardware store.
The place was filled with hap-
hazardly piled rolls of chicken
wire, rolls of roofing paper, card-
board cartons, bales of binder
twine, lengths of stove pipe, crat-
ed stoves, coils of manila rope.
He could hear people moving
around up in front, but there was
no one in sight. He ducked be-
hind a crated stove and from the
window above his head, a splash
of sun came down, so that
he crouched in a pool of light.
Outside, in the alleyway, he
heard running feet go past and
from far away he heard men
shouting. He hunched down,
pressing his body against the
rough board crating of the stove
and tried to control his labored
breathing, afraid that anyone
coming into the room might hear
his rasping breath.
He’d have to figure out some
way to get away. If he stayed
where he was, they finally would
find him. They would start comb-
ing the area, police and citizen
alike. And, by that time, they
would know who it was they
hunted. The boy would tell them
he found the top lying near the
car and someone then might re-
member seeing him park the car
and the waitress in the restaurant
might tell them how he stayed
while the others raced outside.
From many little bits of informa-
tion, they would know their fugi-
tive was the man whose Forever
car they’d smashed.
He wondered what would hap-
pen to him when they found him,
but he knew well enough, re-
membering the bulletin from St.
Malo, about the man hanging
from the lamp post with a pla-
card on his chest.
But there was no way to es-
cape. He couldn’t sneak out into
the alley, for they’d be watching
for him. He could go back into
the basement, but that wasn’t
any better than where he was.
He could saunter into the store
and act like a customer, finally
walk out to the street, doing his
best to look like an ordinary
citizen who had dropped into the
place to look at some gun or tool.
But he doubted that he could
carry it off.
RING AROU ND THE SUN
So the illogic hadn’t paid off,
after all. Logic and reason were
still the winners. There was no
escape from this sunlit refuge be-
hind the crated stove.
There was no escape, unless —
He had found the top again.
He had it there with him.
There was no escape — unless
the top should work.
H E put the top’s point on the
floor and slowly pumped the
handle. It picked up speed. He
let go and it spun, whistling. He
knelt in front of it and watched
the colored stripes. He saw them
come into being and he followed
them into infinity and he won-
dered where they went. He forced
his attention on the top, narrow-
ing it down until the top was all
It didn’t work. The top wob-
bled and he put out a hand and
He tried again.
He had to be an eight-year-
old. He must clear away his
mind, sweep out all adult
thoughts, all adult worry, all so-
phistication. He must become a
He thought of playing in the
sand, of napping under trees, of
the feel of soft grass beneath bare
feet. He closed his eyes and con-
centrated and caught the vision
and the color and the smell of it.
He opened his eyes and watch-
ed the stripes and filled his mind
with wonder, with the question
of their being and where they
went when they disappeared.
It didn’t work.
The top wobbled and he stop-
A frantic thought wedged its
way into his consciousness. He
didn’t have much time. He had
He pushed the thought away.
A child had no conception of
time. He was a little boy and he
had all the time there was and
he owned a brand-new top.
He spun it again.
He knew the comfort of a
home and loved parents and the
playthings scattered on the floor
and the story books that Grand-
ma would read to him when she
came visiting again. And he
watched the top with a simple,
childish wonder — watching the
stripes come up and disappear,
come up and disappear, come up
and disappear —
TTE fell a foot or so and thump-
ed upon the ground and he
was sitting atop a hill. The land
stretched out before him for
miles and miles and miles, an
empty land of waving grass and
groves of trees and far-off, wind-
He looked down at his feet and
the top was there, slowly spinning
to a wobbling halt.
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
N EW and empty of any mark
of Man, the land was raw
of earth and sky. Even the wild-
ness of the wind that swept across
it seemed to say that the land
From his hilltop, Vickers saw
bands of dark, moving shapes
that he felt sure were small herds
of buffalo. Even as he watched
three wolves came loping up the
slope, saw him and veered off,
angling down the hill. In the blue
sweep of sky that arched from
horizon to horizon without a
single cloud, a bird wheeled
gracefully, spying out the land.
It screeched and the screech
came down to Vickers as a high,
thin sound filtered through the
The top had brought him
through. He was safe in this
empty land with wolves and buf-
He climbed to the ridgetop and
looked across the reaches of the
grassland, with its frequent groves
and many watercourses, spark-
ling in the sun. There was no
sign of human habitation — no
roads, no threads of smoke sift-
ing up to the sky.
He looked at the sun and won-
dered which way was west and
thought he knew, and if he was
right, the sun said it was mid-
morning. But if he was w^ong, it
was afternoon and in a few hours
darkness would come upon the
land. And when darkness came,
he would have to figure out how
to spend the night.
He had meant to go into fairy-
land. If he had stopped to think
about it, he told himself, he
would have known that it would
not be, for the place he had gone
to as a child could not have been
fairyland. This was a new and
empty.world, lonely and perhaps
dangerous, but it was better than
the back room of a hardware
store in some unknown town
with his fellow men hunting him
He sat down and emptied his
pockets and made an inventory
of what he had. A half a package
of cigarettes; three packs of
matches, one almost finished, one
full, one with just a match or
two gone from it; a pocket knife;
a handkerchief; a billfold with
some bills in it; a few cents in
change; the key to the Forever
car; a ring with the keys to the
house and another to his desk
and a couple of other keys he
couldn’t identify; a mechanical
pencil; a few half sheets of paper
folded together, pocket size, on
• which he had intended to make
notes if he saw anything worth
noting — and that was all. Fire
and a tool with a cutting edge
and paper money less useful than
the blank paper and worthless
RING AROUND THE SUN
bits of metal.
If this world was empty, he
must feed himself and defend
himself and find shelter and, in
time to come, contrive some way
in which to clothe himself.
He lit a cigarette and tried to
think, but all he could think
about was that he must go easy
on the cigarettes, for the half
pack was all he had and when
those were gone, there would be
An alien land — but not entire-
and buffalo were the same as old
Earth had borne. Perhaps it was
Earth. It looked for all the world
as the primal Earth might have
looked before Man had stripped
and gutted it and torn all its
treasures from it.
I T was no alien land — no alien
dimension into which the top
had flung him, although, of
course, the top hadn’t had any-
thing to do with it. It was simply
something on which one focused
one’s attention, a hypnotic de-
vice to aid the mind in the job
ly alien, for it was Earth again,
the old familiar Earth unscarred
by the tools of Man. It had the
air of Earth and the grass and
sky of Earth, and even the wolves
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
which it must do. The top had
helped him come into this land,
but it had been his mind and
that strange otherness that was
his which had enabled him to
travel from old familiar Earth to
this strange, primal world.
There was something he had
heard or read.
He went searching for it, dig-
ging back into his brain with
frantic mental fingers.
A news story? Something he
had heard? Or something he had
seen on television?
It came to him finally — the
article about the man in Boston
— a Dr. Aldridge, he seemed to re-
member who had said that there
might be more worlds than one,
that there might be an Earth a
second ahead of ours and one a
second behind ours and another
a second behind that and still
another and another and another,
a long string of worlds whirling
one behind the other, like men
walking in the snow, one man
putting his foot into the other’s
track and the one behind him
putting his foot in the same track
and so on down the line.
A ring around the Sun.
He hadn’t finished feading the
story, he recalled, for something
had distracted him and he’d laid
the paper aside. He wished he
hadn’t. For Aldridge might have
This might be the next world
RING AROUND THE SUN
after the old, familiar Earth.
He tried to puzzle out the logic
of why there should be a ring
of worlds around the Sun, but
he gave it up, for he had no idea.
Say, then, that this was Earth
No. 2, the next earth behind the
original Earth which he had left
behind. Say that in topographical
features the earths would resem-
ble one another, not exactly like
one another, perhaps, but very
close in their topography, with
tittle differences here and there,
each magnified in turn until
probably a matter of ten earths
back, the change would become
noticeable. But this was only the
second earth and its features
might be but little changed and
on old Earth he had been some-
where in Illinois and this was
the kind of land that ancient
Illinois would have been.
He had gone into fairyland and
there had been a garden and a
house in a grove of trees and
maybe this was the very earth
he had visited when he was a
boy of eight. And in later years
he had walked an enchanted val-
ley and it, too, might have been
this earth, and if that was true,
then there was a Preston house
exactly like the one which stood
so proudly in the Earth of his
He knew there was little reason
to believe there’d be a Preston
house, little reason to think any-
thing other than that he was
trapped in an empty, lonely
world. But he shut his mind to
reason, for the hope that there
was a Preston house was the only
hope there was.
He checked the Sun and saw
that it had climbed higher in the
sky, and that meant that it was
morning and not afternoon, and
by that he knew which way was
He set off, striding down the
hill, heading toward the one hope
he had in all this strange new
W ELL before dark, he picked
a camping site, a grove
through which ran a stream.
He took off his shirt and tied
it to a stick to form a crude
seine, then went down to a small
pool in the creek and after some
experimenting found how to use
the seine to the best advantage.
At the end of an hour, he had
five good-sized fish.
He cleaned the fish with his
pocket knife and lit the fire with
a single match and congratulated
himself upon his woodsmanship.
He cooked one of the fish and
ate it. It was not an easy thing
to eat, for he had no salt and
the cooking was very far from
expert — part of the fish was
charred by flame and the rest
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
was raw. But he was ravenous
and it didn’t taste too bad until
the edge was off his hunger. After
that it was a hard job choking
down the rest, but he forced him-
self to do it, for he knew that he
faced hard days ahead and to get
through them he must keep his
By this time, darkness had fall-
en and he huddled beside the
fire. He tried to think, but he was
too tired for thinking. He caught
himself dozing as he sat.
He slept, awoke to find the
fire almost out and the night
still black, built up the fire while
cold sweat broke out on him. The
fire was for protection as well as
warmth and cooking and on the
day’s march he had seen not only
wolves, but bear as well, and
once a large tawny shape moving
too fast for him to make out
what it was, except that it looked
He woke again and dawn was
in the sky! He built up the fire
and cooked the rest of the fish,
ate one and part of another,
tucked the others, messy as they
were, into his pocket. He would
need food throughout the day,
and he did not want to waste the
time or matches to make a fire.
He hunted around the grove
and found a stout, straight stick.
It would serve him for a walking
staff and might be of some use as
a club if he were called upon to
defend himself. He checked his
pockets to see that he was leav-
ing nothing behind. He had his
pocket knife and the matches
and they were the important
things. He wrapped the matches
carefully in his handkerchief,
then put them in his undershirt.
He needed those matches, for he
doubted very seriously that he
could make fire with flint or
He was off before the Sun was
up, slogging northwestward, but
going more slowly than the day
before, for now he realized that
it was not speed but stamina that
counted. To wear himself out in
these first few days of hiking
would be suicidal.
TTE lost some time making a
wide detour in the afternoon
around a fair-sized herd of buf-
falo. He camped that night in
another grove, having stopped an
hour or so earlier beside a stream
to catch another supply of fish
with his shirt-and-staff seine. In
the grove he found a few bushes
of dewberries, with some fruit
still on them, so he had dessert
as well as fish.
The Sun came up and he
moved on again.
And another day came up and
he went on. And another and
He caught fish. He picked ber-
ries. He found a deer that had
RING AROUND THE SUN
been freshly killed, no doubt by
some animal that his appear-
ance had scared off. Hacking
away with his pocket knife, he
cut as many ragged hunks of
venison as he could carry. Even
without salt, the meat was a wel-
come change from fish. He even
learned to eat a little of it raw,
hacking off a mouthful and chew-
ing it methodically as he walked
along. He had to discard the last
of the meat when it got so high
that he couldn’t live with it.
He lost track of time. He had
no idea of how many miles he
had covered, nor how far he
might be from the place where
he was heading, nor even if he
could find it at all.
His shoes broke open and he
stuffed them with dried grass and
bound them together with strips
cut off his trouser legs.
One day he knelt to drink at
a pool and in the glass- clear
water saw a strange face staring
back, at him. With a shock he
realized that it was his own face,
that of a bearded man, ragged
and dirty and with the lines of
fatigue upon him.
The days came and went. He
moved ahead, northwestward. He
kept putting first one foot out
and then the other. The Sun
burned him at first and the burn
turned to a tan. He crossed a
wide, deep river on a log. It took
a long time to get across and
once the log almost spun and
spilled him, but he made it.
He walked through an empty
land, with no sign of habitation,
although it was a land that was
well suited for human occupa-
tion. The soil was rich and the
grass grew tall and thick, and
the trees, which sprang skyward
from groves along the water-
courses, were straight and tow-
ered high into the sky.
Then one day, just before sun-
set, he topped a rise and saw the
land sweeping downward toward
the distant ribbon of a river that
he thought he recognized.
It was not the river which held
his attention, but the flash of set-
ting Sun on a large area of metal
He put up his hand and shield-
ed his eyes against the sunlight
and tried to make out what it
was, but it was too remote and it
shone too brightly.
Climbing down the slope, not
knowing whether to be glad or
frightened, Vickers kept a close
watch on the gleam of far-off
metal. • At times he lost sight of
it when he dipped into the swales,
but it was always there when
he topped the rise again, so he
knew that it was real.
Finally he was able to make
out metallic buildings glinting in
the Sun, and now he saw that
strange shapes came and went in
the air above them and that there
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
was a stir of life around them.
But it was not a city or a
town. For one thing, it was too
metallic. And for another, there
were no roads leading into it.
A S he came nearer, he made
out more and more of the
detail of the place. When he was
only a mile or two away, he
stopped and looked at it and
knew whai it was.
It was not a city, but a factory,
a giant, sprawling factory and to
it came, continually, the strange
flying things that probably were
planes, but looked more like fly-
ing boxcars. Most of them came
from the north and west and
they came flying low, not too fast,
to land in an area behind a
screen of buildings that stood be-
tween him and the landing field.
And the creatures that moved
about among the buildings were
not men — or did not seem to be
men, but something else, metallic
things that flashed in the last
rays of the Sun.
All about the buildings, stand-
ing on great towers, were cup-
shaped discs many feet across
and all the faces of the discs
were turned toward the Sun and
the faces of the discs glowed as
if there were fires inside them.
He walked slowly toward the
buildings and realized for the
first time the sheer vastness of
them. They covered acre after
RING AROUND THE SUN
acre and they towered many stor-
ies high and the things that ran
among them on their strange and
many errands were not men, nor
anything like men, but self-pro-
Some of the machines he could
identify, but most of them he
couldn’t. He saw a carrying ma-
chine rush past with a load of
lumber clutched within its belly
and a great crane lumber by at
thirty miles an hour with its steel
jaws swinging. But there were
others that looked like mechanis-
tic nightmares and all of them
went scurrying about in a terrific
He found a street, or, if not
a street, an open space between
two buildings, and went along it,
keeping close to the side of one,
for it would have been inviting
death to walk down the center,
where the machines were racing
He came to an opening in the
building, from which a ramp led
out to the street, and he cautious-
ly climbed the ramp and looked
inside. The interior was lighted,
although he could not see where
the light came from, and he
looked down long avenues of ma-
chinery, busily at work. But there
was no noise — that, he knew now,
was what had bothered him.
Here was a factory and it was
utterly silent except for the sound
of metal on the earth as the self-
propelled machines flashed, along
He left the ramp and went
down the street, hugging the
building, and came out on the
edge of the airfield where
the aerial boxcars were landing
and taking off.
He watched the machines land
and disgorge their freight, great
piles of shining, newly sawed
lumber, which were at once
snatched up by the carrying ma-
chines and hustled off in all di-
rections. Great gouts of raw ore,
more than likely iron, were
dumped into the maw of other
carrying machines that looked,
or so Vickers thought, like so
Once the boxcar had unloaded
it took off again — took off with-
out a single sound, as if a wind
had seized and wafted it into the
The flying things came in end-
less streams, disgorging their end-
less round of cargo, which was
taken care of almost immediate-
ly. Nothing was left piled up. By
the time the machine had lifted
into the air, the cargo it had car-
ried had been rushed off some-
Their operation was not auto-
matic, for to have been auto-
matic, each operation must have
been performed at a certain place
and at a regular time, and each
ship did not land in exactly the
same place, nor was the time of
their arrival spaced regularly.
But each time a ship landed, the
appropriate carrying machine
would be on hand to take charge
of the cargo.
L IKE intelligent beings, Vickers
thought, and even as he
thought of it, he knew that
that was exactly what they were
— robots, each designed to take
care of its own particular task.
Not the manlike robots of one’s
imagination, but practical ma-
chines with intelligence and pur-
The Sun had set and as he
stood at the corner of the build-
ing, he looked up at the towers
which had faced it. The discs
atop the towers were slowly turn-
ing back toward the east, so that
when the Sun came up next
morning, they would be facing it.
Solar power, thought Vickers —
where else had he heard of solar
power? Why, in the mutant-pro-
duced houses, the dapper little
salesman had explained to Ann
and him how, when you had a
solar plant, you could dispense
with public utilities.
And here again was solar
power. Here, too, were friction-
less machines that ran without
the faintest noise, like the For-
ever car that would not wear
out, but would last through many
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
The machines paid no attention
to him. It was as if they did not
see him, did not suspect that he
was there. Not one of them fal-
tered as they rushed past him,
not a single one had moved out
of its way to give him a wider
berth. Nor had any made a
threatening motion toward him.
With the going of the Sun, the
area was lighted, but once again
he could not determine the source
of the light. The fall of night did
not halt the work. The flying box-
cars, great, angular, boxlike con-
traptions, still came flying in,
unloaded and flew off again. The
machines kept up their scurry-
ing. The. long lines of machines
within the buildings continued
their soundless labor.
The flying boxcars, he won-
dered, were they robots, too?
And the answer seemed to be
that they probably were.
He edged his way onto the
platform and looked at some of
the crates closely, trying to de-
termine what it was they held,
but the only designations on
them were stenciled code letters
and numerals. He thought of
prying some of them open, but
he had no tools to do it, and he
was just a bit afraid to do it, for
while the machines continued to
pay no attention to him, they
might pay disastrous attention
if he interfered.
Hours later, he came out on
RING AROUND THE SUN
the other side of the sprawling
factory area and walked away
from it, then turned back and
looked at it and saw it glowing
with its strange light and sensed
the bustle of it.
He looked back at the factory
and wondered what was made
there and thought that he could
guess. Probably razor blades and
lighters and maybe light bulbs
and perhaps the houses and the
Forever cars. Maybe all of them.
For this, he felt certain, was
the factory — or at least one of
the factories — that Crawford and
North American Research had
been looking for and had failed
No wonder, he thought, that
they failed to find it.
"STICKERS came to the river
* late in the afternoon, a river
filled with tree-covered, grape-
vined islands, clogged with sand-
bars and filled with wicked gur-
gling and the hiss of shifting
sands. He was sure it could be
no other stream than the Wis-
consin, flowing through its lower
reaches to join the Mississippi.
And if that were so, he knew
where he was going.
Now he feared that in this
land there was no Preston house.
Rather, he had fallen upon a
strange land where there were no
men, only a complex robotic civ-
ilization in which Man played no
part. There were no men con-
nected with the factory, he was
sure, for the place had been too
self-sufficient to need the hand or
the brain of Man.
He camped on the river’s
shore, and sat for a long time
before he went to sleep, staring
out over the’ silvered miiror of
the moonlit water, feeling the
loneliness strike into him, a
deeper, more bitter loneliness
than he’d ever known before.
When morning came, he’d go
on; he’d tread the trail to its
dusty end. He’d find the place
where the Preston house should
stand and when he found that
there was no house — what would
he do then?
He did not think about that.
He did not want to think about
it. He finally went to slejep.
In the morning he went down
the river and studied the bluff-
studded southern shore and was
more sure than ever that he knew
where he was.
He followed the river down
and finally saw the misty blue of
the great rock-faced bluff that
rose at the junction of the rivers
and the thin violet line of the
cliffs beyond the greater river,
so he climbed the nearest one
and spied out the valley he had
He camped that night in the
valley and the next morning fol-
lowed it and found the other
branching valley that should lead
to the Preston house.
He was halfway up it before
it became familiar, although he
had seeen rock formations that
seemed to bear some similarity
to ones he had seen before.
The suspicion and the hope
grew in him, and at last the cer-
tainty, that, here once again
was the enchanted valley he had
traveled twenty years before!
And now, he thought — now if
the house is there.
He felt faint and sick at the
certainty that it would not be
there, that he would reach the
valley’s head and see where it
should have been, but wasn’t.
For if that happened, he was an
exile from Earth. He wouldn’t
know how to get back.
H E found the path and fol-
lowed it and he saw the wind
blow across the meadow grass so
that it seemed as if the grass
were water and the whiteness of
its wind-blown stems were white-
caps rolling on it. He saw the
clumps of crab-apple trees and
they were not in bloom because
the season was too late, but they
were the same nevertheless.
The path turned around the
shoulder of a hill. Vickers stop-
ped and looked at the house
standing on the hill. He felt his
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
knees go wobbly beneath him
and he looked away quickly, then
brought his eyes back to make
sure it was not imagination, that
the house was really there.
It really was.
He started up the path and dis-
covered that he was running and
forced himself down to a rapid
walk. And then he was running
again and he didn’t try to stop.
He reached the hill that led
up to the house and he went
more slowly now, trying to re-
gain his breath, and he thought
what a sight he was, with weeks
of beard upon his face, with his
clothing ripped and tom and
matted with the dirt and filth of
travel, with his shoes falling to
shreds, tied upon his feet with
strips of cloth from his trouser
legs, with his frayed trousers
blowing in the wind, showing
He came to the white picket
fence and stopped beside the
gate and leaned upon it, looking
at the house. It was exactly as
he had remembered it, neat, well-
kept, with the lawn trimmed and
flowers growing brightly, the
woodwork newly painted and the
brick a mellow color attesting to
years of Sun upon it and the
force of wind and rain.
“Kathleen,” he said, and he
couldn’t say the name too well,
for his lips were parched and
rough. “I’ve come back again.”
RING AROUND THE SUN
He wondered what she’d look
like, after all these years. He
must not, he warned himself, ex-
pect to see the girl he once had
known, the girl of seventeen or
eighteen, but a woman near his
She would see him standing at
the gate and even with the beard
and the tattered clothes and the
weeks of travel on him, she would
know him and would open the
door and come down the walk to
The door opened and the Sun
was in his eyes so that he could
not see her until she’d stepped
out on the porch.
“Kathleen,” he said.
But it wasn’t Kathleen.
It was someone he’d never seen
before — a man who had on almost
no clothes at all and who glit-
tered as he walked down the path
and who said to Vickers, “Sir,
what can I do for you?”
T HERE was something about
the glitter of the man, some-
thing about the way he walked
and the way he talked that didn’t
feel right. He had no hair, for
one thing, either on his head or
on his chest. His eyes were fun-
ny, too. They glittered like the
rest of him and he seemed to
have no lips.
“I’m a robot, sir,” he explained,
seeing Vickers’ puzzlement.
“Oh,” said Vickers.
1 “My name is Hezekiah.”
“How are you, Hezekiah?"
Vickers asked inanely, not know-
ing what else to say.
“I’m all right,” replied Heze-
kiah. “I am always all right.
There is nothing to go wrong
with me. But thank you for ask-
“I had hoped to find someone
here.” said Vickers. “A Miss
Kathleen Preston. Does she hap-
pen to be home?”
He watched the robot’s eyes
and there was no answer in them.
The robot asked, “Won’t you
come in, sir’ and wait?”
“Why, certainly,” said Vickers.
The robot held the gate open
for him and he came through,
walking on the path of mellowed
brick, and he noticed how tidy
the house was. The windows
sparkled with the cleanliness of
a recent washing and the shutters
hung true and straight and the
trim was painted and the lawn
looked as if it had not been only
mowed, but razored. Gay beds of
flowers bloomed without a single
weed and the picket fence march-
ed its eternal guard around the
house straight as wooden soldiers
and painted gleaming white.
The robot went up the steps
to the little porch that opened
on the side entrance and pushed
the door open for Vickers.
“To your right, sir,” Hezekiah
said. “Take a chair and wait.
If there is anything you wish,
there is a bell upon the table.”
“Thank you, Hezekiah,” said
The room was large. It was
gaily papered and had a small
marble fireplace wfth a mirror
over the mantle and there was a
sort of official hush, as if the
place might be an antechamber
for important conferences.
Vickers took a chair and
What had he expected? Kath-
leen bursting from the house and
running down the steps to meet
him, happy after twenty years
of never hearing from him? He
shook his head. It didn’t work
that way. It wasn’t logical that
But there were other things
that were not logical, either, and
they had worked out. It had not
been logical that he should find
this house in this other world,
and still he had found it and now
sat beneath its roof and waited.
It had not been logical that he
should find the top he had not
remembered and, finding it, know
what to use it for. But he had
found it and he had used it and
H E sat quietly, listening to
There was a murmur of voices
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
in the room that opened off the
waiting room and he saw that
the door which led into it was
open an inch or two.
There was no other sound.
The house lay in morning quiet.
He got up from his chair and
paced to the window and from
the window back to the marble
Who was in that other room?
Why was he waiting? Whom
would he see when he walked
through that door and what
would they say to him?
He stopped beside the door,
standing with his back against
the wall, holding his breath to
IT^HE murmur of voices became
. . going to be a shock.”
A deep, gruff voice said, “It
always is a shock. There’s noth-
ing you can do to take the shock
away. No matter how you look
at it, it always is degrading.”
A slow, drawling voice said,
“It’s unfortunate that we have
to work it the way we do. It’s
too bad we can’t let them go on
in their rightful bodies.”
Businesslike; clipped, precise,
the first voice said, “Most of
the androids take it fairly well.
Even knowing what it means,
they take it fairly well. We make
them understand. And, of course,
out of the three, there’s always
the lucky one, the one that can
go on in his actual body.”
“I have a feeling,” said the
gruff voice, “that we started in
on Vickers just a bit too soon.”
“Flanders said we had to. He
thinks Vickers is the only one
who can handle Crawford.”
And Flanders’ voice saying, "I
am sure he can. He was a late
starter, but he was coming fast.
We gave it to him hard. First
the bug got careless and he
caught it and that set him to
thinking. Then, after that, we
arranged the lynching threat.
Then he found the top we planted
and the association clicked. Give
him just another jolt or two . . .”
“How about the girl, Flanders?
That — what’s her name?”
“Ann Carter,” Flanders said.
“We’ve been jolting her a bit. but
not as hard as Vickers.”
“How will they take it?” asked
the drawling voice, “when they
find they’re android?”
Vickers lurched away from the
door, groping with his hands, as
if he were walking in the dark
through a room filled with furni-
Used, he thought.
Not even human.
“Dynn you, Flanders!” he
said. “Damn you for a smirking
Not only he, but Ann — they
were both androids.
He had to get away, he told
RING AROUND THE SUN
himself. He had to find a place
where he could hide and let his
mind calm down and plan what
he meant to do.
For he was going to do some-
thing. It wasn’t going to stay this
way. He’d deal himself a hand
and cut in on the game.
He moved along the hall and
reached the door and opened it
a crack to see if anyone was there.
The lawn was empty. There was
no one in sight.
He went out the door and
closed it gently behind him and
when he hit the ground, jumping
from the tiny porch, he was run-
ning. He went over the fence.
He didn’t look back until he
reached the trees. When he did,
the house stood serenely, majes-
tically, on its hilltop at the val-
S O he was an android, an arti-
ficial man, a body made out
of a handful of chemicals and
the cunning of Man’s mind and
the wizardry of Man’s technique
— but ordinary, normal men had
no such cunning and no such
technique. The mutants did.
They could make an artificial
man and make him so well and
cleverly that even he, himself,
would never know for sure. And
artificial women, too — like Ann
The mutants could make an-
droids and robots and Forever
cars and everlasting , razor blades
and a host of other gadgets, all
designed to wreck the race from
which they sprang. They had
synthesized the carbohydrate as
food and the protein to make the
bodies of their androids, and
they knew how to travel from
one earth to another — all those
earths that ringed the Sun. This
much he knew they could do and
were doing. What other things
they might be doing, he had no
idea. Nor any idea, either, of the
things they dreamed or planned.
“You’re a mutant,” Crawford
had told him. “You’re one^, of
them.” For Crawford had a ma-
chine that could pry into the
mind and tell its owner what
was in that mind, but the ma-
chine was stupid in the last anal-
ysis, for it couldn’t even tell a
real man from a fake.
No mutant, but a mutant’s er-
rand boy. Not even a man, only
an artificial copy.
How many others, he won-
dered, could there be like him?
How many of his kind were
trailed and watched by Craw-
ford’s men, unaware that they did
not trail and watch the mutant,
but a thing of mutant manufac-
ture? That, thought Vickers, was
the true measure of the difference
between the normal man and mu-
tant — the normal man could mis-
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
take the mutant’s scarecrow for
The mutants made a man and
turned him loose and watched
him and allowed him to develop
and set a spying mechanism that
they called a bug to watch him,
a little mechanical mouse that
could be smashed with a paper-
And in the proper time they
jolted him — jolted him for what?
They stirred up his fellow towns-
men so he fled a lynching party ;
they planned for him to find a
toy out of childhood and waited
to see if the toy might not trip
a childhood association; they
fixed it so he would drive a For-
ever car when they knew that
driving such a car could cause
him to be mobbed.
And after they had jolted an
android, what happened to him
What became of the androids
once they had been used for the
purpose of their making?
He had told Crawford that
when he knew what was going
on, he’d talk to him again. And
now he knew something of what
was going on and Crawford
might be very interested.
He walked on through the
woods, with its massive trees and
its deep-laid forest mold and
thick matting of old leaves, with
its mosses and its flowers and its
strange silence filled with uncar-
RING AROUND THE SUN
ing and with comfort.
He had to find Ann Carter. He
had to tell her. Together, the
two of them would somehow
stand against it.
He halted beside the great oak
tree and stared up at its leaves
and tried to clear his mind, to
wipe it clean of the chaos of his
thinking so he could start fresh
There were two things that
stood out above all others:
He had to get back to the par-
He had to find Ann Carter.
TTE did not see the man until
the voice startled him into
“Good morning, stranger,” said
the man, standing just a few
feet away, a great, tall, strong
man dressed much as a farm
hand or a factory worker, but
with a jaunty, peaked cap and
a brilliant feather stuck into it.
Despite the rudeness of his
clothing, there was nothing of
the peasant about the man, but
a cheerful self-sufficiency that
reminded Vickers of someone he’d
read about and he tried to think
who it might be, and he thought
of Robin Hood.
Across the man’s shoulder was
a strap that held a quiver full
of arrows and in his hand he held
a bow. Two young rabbits hung
lifeless from his belt and the
blood dripping from them had
smeared his trouser leg.
“Good morning,” said Vickers,
He didn’t like the idea of this
man popping up from nowhere.
“You’re another one of them,”
the man said.
“Another one of what?”
The man laughed. “We get one
of you every once in a while.
Someone who has blundered
thrpugh and doesn’t know where
he is. I’ve often wondered what
happened to them before we
were settled here or what happens
to them when they pop through
a long way from any settlement.”
“I don’t know what you’re
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
“Another thing you don’t
know,” said the man, “is where
“I have a theory,” Vickers re-
torted. “This is a second earth.”
“You got it pegged pretty
close. You’re better than most of
them. They just flounder around
and gasp and won’t believe it
when we tell them this is earth
RING AROUND THE SUN
“That’s neat,” said Vickers.
“Earth Number Two, is it? And
what about Number Three?”
"It’s there, waiting until we
need it. Worlds without end, wait-
ing until we need them. We can
go on pioneering for generation
after generation. A new earth for
each new generation if we have
to, but they say we won’t be
needing them that fast.”
“They?” challenged Vickers.
“Who are they?”
"The mutants,” said the man.
“The local ones live in the Big
House. You didn’t see the Big
V ICKERS shook his head
“You must have missed it,
coming up the ridge. A big brick
place with a white picket fence
around it and other buildings
that look like barns, only they
“No,” said the man. “They
are laboratories and experimental
buildings and there is one build-
ing that is fixed uj!> for listening.”
“Why do they have a place for
listening? Seems to me you could
listen almost anywhere. You and
I can listen without having a
special place fixed up for us.”
“They listen to the stars,” the
man told him.
“They listen . . .” began Vick-
ers, and then remembered Flan-
ders sitting on the porch in
Cliffwood, rocking in the chair
and saying that great pools and
reservoirs of knowledge existed
in the stars, that it * was there
for the taking and you might not
need rockets to go there and get
it, but might reach out with your
mind and that you’d have to sift
and winnow, but you’d find much
that you could use.
“Telepathy?” asked Vickers.
“That’s it,” said the man.
“They don’t listen to the stars
really, but to people who live on
the planets of the stars. Now
ain’t that the screwiest thing you
ever heard of — listening to the
“Yes, I guess it is.”
“But they get ideas from these
people. They don’t talk to them,
I guess, just listen in on them.
They catch some of the things
they’re thinking and some of the
things they know and a lot of it
can be used and a lot of it don’t
make no sense at all. But it’s the
truth, so help me, mister.”
“My name is Vickers. Jay
“Well, I’m glad to know you,
Mr. Vickers. My name is Asa
He held out his hand and
Vickers took it and his grip was
hard and sure.
And now. he knew that this was
no Robin Hood. Here before him
stood an American pioneer, thd'
man who carried the long rifle
from the colonies to the hunting
grounds of Kentucky. Here were
the alert stance, the indepen-
dence, the quick good will and
wit, the steady self-reliance.
Here, once again, in the forests
of Earth No. 2, was another pio-
neer type, sturdy and indepen-
dent and a good man for a friend.
“These mutants must be the
people who are putting out the
everlasting razor and all that
other stuff in the gadget shops,”
“You catch on quick,” said
Andrews. “We’ll go up to the
Big House in a day or two and
you can talk to them.”
H E shifted the bow from one
hand to another. “Look.
Vickers, did you leave someone
back there? A wife and some kids,
“No one,” said Vickers. “Not
a single soul:”
“If you had, we’d have gone up
to the Big House right away and
told them about it and they
would have fixed it up to bring
the wife and kids through, too.
That’s the only thing about this
place — once you get here, there’s
no going back. Although why
anyone would want to go back
is more than I can figure out.
So far as I know, no one has
He looked Vickers up and
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
down, laughter tugging at his
“You look all gaunted down,”
he said. “You ain’t been eating
“Just fish and some venison I
found. And berries.”
“The old lady will have the
victuals on. We’ll get some food
into you and those whiskers off
and I’ll have the kids heat up
some water and you can take a
bath, and then we can sit and
talk. We got a lot to talk about.”
He led the way, with Vickers
following, down the ridge through
the heavy timber.
They came out on the edge of
a cleared field green with growing
“That’s my place down there,”
said Andrews. “Down at the hol-
low’s head. You can see the
“Nice field of corn you have,”
“Knee-high by the Fourth.
And over there is Jake Smith’s
place. You can see the house if
you look a little close. And just
beyond the hogsback are John
Simmon’s fields. There are other
neighbors, but you can’t see from
They climbed the barbed wire
fence and went across the field,
walking between the corn rows.
“It’s different here,” said An-
drews, “than back on Earth. I
was working in a factory there
and living in a place that you
wouldn’t keep animals in. Then
the factory shut down and there
was no money. I went to the car-
bohydrates people and they kept
the family fed. Then the land-
lord threw us out. The carbohy-
drates people had been so friend-
ly that I went to them and told
them what had happened. They
were the only ones I knew of
that I could turn to. After a day
or two, one of them came around
and told us about this place —
except, of course, he didn’t tell
us what it really was. He said
it was a brand-new territory
that was opening up and there
was free land for the taking and
help to get you on your feet and
that I could make a living
and have a house instead of a
two-by-four apartment in a stink-
ing tenement and I said that we
would go. He warned me that if
we went, we couldn’t come back
again and I asked him who would
“You’ve never regretted it?”
“It was the luckiest thing that
ever happened to us. Fresh air
for the kids and all you want
to eat and a place to live with
no landlord to throw you out.
No dues to pay and no taxes to
scrape up. Just like in the his-
“The history books?”
“When America was opened
RING AROUND THE SUN
up and the pioneers piled in.
Land for the taking. More land
than anyone can use, so rich you
just scratch the ground a little
and throw in some seed and you
got a crop. Land to plant things
in and wood to burn and build
with and you can walk out at
night and the sky is full of stars
and the air is so clean it seems
to hurt your nose when you draw
A NDREWS turned and looked
at Vickers, his eyes hard.
‘‘It was the best thing that
ever happened to me,” he said, as
if daring Vickers to contradict
‘‘But these mutants,” said
Vickers. ‘‘Don’t they get into your
hair? Don’t they lord it over
‘‘They don’t do anything but
help us. They send us a robot to
help out with the work when we
need to have some help and they
send a robot that lives with us
nine months of the year to teach
the kids. One robot teacher for
each family. Now ain’t that some-
thing? Your own private teacher,
just like you went out and hired
yourself a high-toned private tu-
. tor like the rich folks back on
‘‘And you don’t resent these
mutants? You don’t hate them
because they knoW more than
“Mister,” said Asa Andrews,
“you don’t want to let anyone
around these parts hear you talk-
ing like that. When we first came,
they explained it all to us. They
had indoct — indoctrin — ”
“That’s it. They told us what
the score was. They explained
the rules. There aren’t many.”
“Like not having any fire-
arms,” said Vickers.
“That’s one of them. How did
you know that?”
“You’re hunting with a bow.”
“Another one is that if you get
into a row with anybody and
can’t settle it peaceable, the two
of you go up to the Big House
and let them settle it. And if you
get sick, you’re to let them know
right away so they can send you
a doctor and whatever else you
need. The rules work to your
“How about work?”
“You have to earn some
money, don’t you?”
“Not yet,” said Andrews. “The
mutants give us everything we
want or need. All we do is grow
the food. This is whst they call —
what was that word? — this is
what they call the pastoral-feu-
dal stage. You ever hear a word
“But they must have factor-
ies,” Vickers persisted, ignoring
the question. “Places where they
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
make the razor hlades and stuff.
They’d need men to work in
“They use robots. Just lately
they started making a car that
can last forever. The plant is
just a distance from here. But
they use robots to do the entire
job. You know what a robot is.”
“Yes, I know,” said Vickers.
They climbed the fence that
edged the corn field and walked
across a pasture toward the
Someone yelled a joyous greet-
ing and a half a dozen kids came
running down the hill, followed
by yelping dogs. A woman came
to the door of the house, built of
peeled logs. She waved to them
and Andrews waved back and
then the kids and dogs descended
on them in a yelping, howling,
V ICKERS lay 'in bed, in the
loft above the kitchen, and
listened to the wind pattering on
bare feet across the shingles just
above his head. He turned and
burrowed his head into the goose-
down pillow and beneath him the
corn -shuck mattress rustled in
He was clean, washed clean in
the tub behind the house*, with
water heated in a kettle on an
outdoor fire, lathering himself
RING AROUND THE SUN
with soap while Andrews sat on a
nearby stump and talked and
the children played in the yard
and the dogs lay sleeping in the
Sun, twitching their hides to
chase away the flies.
He had eaten, two full meals
of food such as he had forgotten
could exist after days of half-
cooked fish and half-rotten veni-
son — cornbread and sorghum and
young rabbits fried in a smoking
skillet, with creamed new pota-
toes and greens the children had
gone out and gathered and a
salad of watercress pulled from
the spring below the house and
for supper fresh eggs just taken
from the nest.
He had shaved, with the chil-
dren ringed around him watch-
ing, after Andrews had seated
him on a stump and had used the
scissors to trim away the beard.
And after that he and Andrews
had sat on the steps and talked.
Andrews had said that he knew
of a place that was crying for a
house — a tucked-in place just
across the hill, with a spring a
step or two away and some level
ground on a bench above the
creek where a man could lay out
his fields. There was wood in
plenty for the house, great, tall
trees, and Andrews said that he
would help him cut them. When
the logs were ready, the neigh-
bors would come in for the rais-
ing and Jake would bring along
some of the corn that he’d been
cooking and Ben would bring his
fiddle and they’d have themselves
a hoedown when the house was
up. If they needed help beyond
what the neighbors could supply,
all they’d have to do was send
word up to the Big House and
the mutants would send a gang
of robots. But that probably
wouldn’t be necessary, Andrews
had said. The neighbors were a
willing lot and always ready to
help; glad, too, to see another
family moving in.
Once the house was built, said
Andrews, Simmons had some
daughters that Vickers might
want to have a look at, although
you could do your picking blind
if you wanted to, for they were a
likely lot. Andrews had dug Vick-
ers in the ribs with his elbow
and had laughed uproariously
and Jean, Andrews’ wife, who
had come out to sit with them a
while, had smiled shyly at him
and then had turned to watch
the children playing in the yard.
After supper, Andrews had
showed him with some pride the
books on the shelf in the living
room and had said that he was
reading them, something he had
never done before — something he
had never wanted to do before,
nor had the time to do. Vickers,
looking at the books, had found
Homer and Shakespeare, Mon-
taigne and Austen, Thoreau and
“You mean you’re reading
these?” he asked.
Andrews had nodded. “Read-
ing them and liking them, mostly.
Once in a while I find it a little
hard to wade through them, but
I keep at it. Jean likes Austen
It was a good life here, said
Andrews, the best life they’d ever
known and Jean smiled her
agreement and the kids had lost
an argument about letting the
dogs come in and sleep the night
H ERE again was the American
frontier, but idealized and
bookish, with all the frontier’s
advantages and none of its terror
and its hardship. Here was a
paternal feudalism, the Big
House on the hill serving as the
castle that looked down across
the fields where happy people
took their living from the soil.
Here was a time*for resting and
for gathering strength. And here
was peace. No talk of war, no
taxes to fight a war, or to pre-
vent a war by a proved willing-
ness to fight.
Here was — what had Andrews
said? — the pastoral-feudal stage.
And after that came what stage?
The pastoral -feudal stage for
resting and thinking, for getting
thoughts in order, for establish-
ing once again the bond between
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
Man and soil, the stage in which
was prepared the way for the
development of a culture that
would be better than the one they
This was one earth of many
earths. How many others? Hun-
dreds, thousands, millions? Earth
following earth, and now all the
earths lay open.
He tried to figure it out and
he thought he saw the pattern
that the mutants planned. It was
simple and it was brutal, but it
There was an Earth that was
a failure. Somewhere, on the path
that led up from apedom, they
had taken the wrong turning and
had traveled since that day a
long road of misery. There was
brilliance in these people, and
goodness, and ability — but they
had poured their brilliance and
their ability into channels of hate
and arrogance and their goodness
had been buried in selfishness.
They were worth the saving,
as a drunkard or a criminal is
worthy of rehabilitation. But to
save them, you must get them
' out of the neighborhood they
live in, out of the slums of human
thought and method.
To do this, you must break
the world they live in and you
must have a plan to break it and
after it is broken, you must have
a program that leads to a better
R I NG AROU N D THE SUN
But first of all, there must be
a plan of action.
F IRST you shattered the eco-
nomic systems on which old
Earth was built. You shattered
it with Forever cars and everlast-
ing razor blades and with syn-
thetic carbohydrates that would
feed the hungry. You destroyed
industry by producing things
that industry could not dupli-
cate and when you shattered in-
dustry, war was impossible and
half the job was done.
But then you left people with-
out jobs, so you fed them with
carbohydrates while you tried to
ferry them to the following earths
that lay waiting for them. If
there wasn’t room enough on
Earth No. 2, you sent some of
them to No. 3 and maybe No. 4,
so that you had no crowding, so
there was room enough for all.
On the new earths there was a
beginning again, a chance to
dodge the errors and skirt the
dangers that had bathed Old
Earth in blood for countless cen-
On these new earths you could
build any sort of culture that
you wished. You could even
experiment, aim at one culture
on Earth No. 2 and a slightly
different one on No. 3 and yet a
different one on No. 4. And after
a thousand years or so, you could
compare these cultures and see
which one was best and consult
the bales of data you had kept
and pinpoint each mistake in
each particular culture. In time
you could arrive at a formula for
the best in human cultures.
Here on this earth, the pas-
toral-feudal culture was only the
first step. It v*as a resting place
for education and for settling
down. Things would change or
be changed. The son of the man
in whose house he lay would
build a better house and prob-
ably would have robots to work
his fields, while he himself would
live a leisured life. Out of a lei-
sured people, with their energies
channeled by good leadership,
would come paradise on Earth —
or on many earths.
There had been that article in
the paper he had read on that
morning — was it only days ago?
— which had said that the au-
thorities were alarmed at mass
disappearances. While families
were dropping out of sight for
no apparent reason and with
nothing in common except ab-
ject poverty. And, of course, it
would be the very poor who
would be taken first — the home-
less and the jobless and the sick
— to be settled on these earths
that followed in the track of the
dark and bloody world inhabited
Soon there would be little more
than a handful of people on the
dark and bloody Earth. Soon,
in a thousand years or less, it
would go tumbling on its way
alone, its hide cleansed of the
ravening tribe which had eaten at
it and mangled it and ravished it.
This same tribe would be estab-
lished on other earths, under bet-
ter guidance, to create for them-
selves a better life.
Beautiful — and yet there was
this matter of the. androids.
B EGIN at the beginning, he
told himself. Start with first
facts, try to see the logic of it,
to figure out the course of mu-
There ’ always had been mu-
tants. If'there had not been, Man
would still be a little skittering
creatufe hiding in the jungle.
There had been the mutation
of the opposable thumb. There
had been mutations within the
little brain that made for crea-
ture cunning. Some mutation,
unrecorded, had captured fire
and tamed it. Another mutation
had evolved the wheel. Still an-
other had invented the bow and
arrow. And so it went, on do wri-
the ages, mutation on mutation,
building the ladder that man-
Except that the creature who
had captured and tamed the
flame did not know he was a
mutant. And neither had the
tribesman who had thought up
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
the wheel, nor the bow and ar-
Down through the ages there
had been unsuspected and un-
suspecting mutants — men who
were successful beyond the suc-
cess of others, great business
figures or great statesmen, great
writers, great scientists and ar-
tists, men who stood so far above
the herd of their fellow men that
they had seemed like giants in
Perhaps not all of them were
mutants, but some of them would
have been. But their mutancy
would have been a crippled thing
in comparison with what it could
have been, for they were forced
to conform to the social and
economic pattern set by a non-
mutant society. That they had
been able to conform, to fit them-
selves to a smaller measure than
their normal stature, that they
had been able to get along with
men who were less than they and
still stand out as men of tower-
ing ability was in itself a
measure of their mutancy.
Although their success had been
large in the terms of normal
men, their mutancy had been a
failure in that it never reached
its full realization and this was
because these men had never
known that they were mutants.
They had been just a little
smarter or a little handier or
somewhat quicker than the com-
R IN G AROUND THE SUN
mon run of mankind.
But suppose that a man should
know from a piece of indisputa-
ble evidence that he was a mu-
tant what would happen then?
Suppose, for example, a man
should find that he could reach
out to the stars and that he
could catch the thoughts and
plans of the thinking creatures
who lived on planets circling
those far suns — that would be
full and sufficient proof that he
was a mutant. And if he could
obtain from his seeking in the
stars some specific information
of certain economic value — say,
the principle of a frictionless ma-
chine — then without question he
would know that he had a mu-
tant gift. Once knowing that he
was a mutant, he would not be
able to fit so snugly, nor so
smugly, into his contemporary
niche as those men who had been
mutants, but had never known
they were. Knowing that he was
a mutant, he would have the
itch of greatness, would know
the necessity of following his
own path and not the beaten
H E might be slightly terrified
by the things he learned win-
nowing the stars and he might
be terribly lonesome and he
might see the necessity of other
humans than he alone working
on the information that he was
dredging from the depths of
So he would seek for other
mutants and he would do it
cleverly and it might take him
a long time before he found one
of them and he would have to
approach the other mutant cau-
tiously and win his confidence
and finally tell him what he had
in mind. Then there’d be two
mutants, banded together, and
they would seek other mutants.
Not all of them would be able
to send their minds out to the
stars, but they would be able to
do other things. Some of them
would understand electronics, al-
most as if by instinct, more com-
pletely than any normal man,
even with years of intensive
training, and another might sense
the strange alignment of time and
space that allowed for other
worlds than one, circling the Sun
like a cosmic ring of planets.
Some of the mutants would be
women and to the mutants found
would be added mutants born,
and eventually there would be a
mutant organization of several
hundred persons, pooling their
From the information they
gathered from the stars, plus the
mutant abilities of certain others
of them, they would invent and
market certain gadgets that would
bring in the necessary money for
them to continue with their work.
How many of the now common,
workaday, almost prosaic gad-
gets used in the world today,
Vickers wondered, were the prod-
ucts of this mutant race?
But the time would come when
the mutant organization and the
work they did would become too
challenging to pass unnoticed
and the mutants would seek a
place to hide — a safe place where
they could continue the work
that they were doing. And what
safer place could there be than
one of those other earths?
V ICKERS lay on the corn-
shuck mattress and stared
into the darkness and wondered
at the glibness of his imagination,
with the nagging feeling that it
was not imagination — that it was
something that he knew. But
how could he know it?
Conditioning, perhaps, of his
android mind. Or an actual
knowledge gained in some period
of his life that had been blotted
out, as the time he had gone into
fairyland at the age of eight had
been — a knowledge that now was
coming back again, as the re-
membrance of the visit to fairy-
land had finally returned.
Or ancestral memory, perhaps,
actual specific memory passed to
child from parent as instinct was
passed — but the catch was that,
as an android, he didn’t have a
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
He was parentless and raceless
and a mockery of a man, created
for a purpose he did not even
What purpose could the mu-
tants have for him? What talent
did he possess that made him
useful to them?
That was the thing that hurt —
that he should be used for some
purpose which he did not know,
that Ann should have some pur-
pose she did not even guess.
The work of the mutants was
more important than mere gad-
getry, something greater than
Forever cars and everlasting razor
blades and synthetic carbohy-
drates. Their work was the rescue
and the re-establishment of the
race— the starting over again of
a badly muddled humanity. It
was the development of a world
or worlds where war would not
be merely outlawed, but impos-
sible, where fear would never
raise its head, where progress
would have a different value than
it had in mankind’s world today.
And into a program of this
sort, where did Jay Vickers fit?
The mutants would take from
the human race the deadly play-
things and keep those playthings
in trust until the child of Man
was old enough to use them with-
out hurting himself or injuring
his neighbor. They would take
from the three - year - old the
twelve-year-old toy he was using
dangerously and when he was
twelve years old would give it
back again, probably with re-
And the culture of the future,
under mutant guidance, would
be not merely a mechanistic cul-
ture, but a social and an economic
and an artistic and spiritual cul-
ture as well. The mutants would
take lopsided Man and mold him
into balance and the years that
were lost in the remolding would
pay interest in humanity in the
years to come.
But that was speculation; that
was getting nothing done. The
thing that counted now was what
he. Jay Vickers, android, meant
to do about it. What was the
role that he was to play?
Before he did anything about
it, he needed information and he
couldn’t get it here, lying on a
corn-shuck mattress in the loft
above the kitchen of a neo-
There was only one place
where he could get that informa-
He slid noiselessly out of bed
and fumbled in the dark to find
his ragged clothes.
TPHE house was dark, sleeping
-*■ in the moonlight, with the
tall shadows of the trees cast
against its front. He stood in the
RING AROUND THE SUN
shadow just outside the front gate
and looked at it, remembering
how he had seen it in the moon-
light once before, when a road
ran past the gate, but now there
was no road. He recalled how
the glow had fallen on the white-
ness of the pillars and had turn-
ed them to ghostly beauty and
of the words the two of them had
said as they stood and watched
the moonlight shattered on the
But that was dead and done.
All that was left was the bitter-
ness of knowing that he was not
a man, but the imitation of a
TTE opened the gate, went up
the walk and climbed the
steps that led to the porch. He
crossed the porch and his foot-
steps rang so loudly in the still-
ness that he felt certain those in
the house would hear him.
He found the bell and put his
thumb upon it and pressed, then
stood waiting, as he had waited
once before. But this time there
would be no Kathleen to come
to the door to greet him.
He waited and a light sprang
into life in the central hall and
through the glass he saw a man-
like figure fumbling at the door.
The door came open and he
stepped inside and the gleaming
robot bowed a little stiffly and
said, “Good evening, sir.”
“Hezekiah, I presume,” said
“Hezekiah, sir,” the robot con-
firmed. “You met me this morn-
“I went for a walk.’’
“And now perhaps I could
show you to your room.”
The robot turned and went up
the winding staircase, with Vick-
ers following him.
“It’s a nice night, sir,” the
“You have eaten, sir?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“I could bring you up a snack,”
Hezekiah offered. “I believe there
is some chicken left.”
“No,” said Vickers. “Thank
you just the same.”
Hezekiah shoved open a door
and turned on a light, then step-
ped aside making room for Vick-
ers to go in.
“Perhaps,” said Hezekiah, “you
Would like a nightcap.”
“That’s a good idea. Scotch,
if you have it handy.”
“In just a moment, sir. You
will find some pajamas in the
third drawer from the top. They
may be a little large, but proba-
bly you can manage.”
He found the pajamas and
they were fairly new and very
loud and they seemed quite a bit
too big, but they were better
than nothing and Vickers laid
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
^T'HE room was pleasant, with
a huge bed covered by a white,
stitched counterpane and the
white curtains at the windows
blew in on the* night breeze.
He sat down in a chair to wait
for Hezekiah and the drink and
for the first time in many days
he knew how tired he was. He’d
have the drink and climb into
bed and when morning came he’d
go stomping down the stairs,
looking for a showdown.
The door opened and he turn-
ed to take the drink from Heze-
It wasn’t Hezekiah; it was
Horton Flanders, in a crimson
dressing robe fastened tight about
his neck, and slippers on his feet
that slapped against the floor as
he crossed the room.
He sat down in another chair
and looked at Vickers, with a
half smile on his face.
“So you came back,” he sbid.
“I came back to listen,” Vick-
ers told him. “You can start
talking right away.”
“That’s why I got up. As soon
as Hezekiah told me you had
arrived, I knew you’d want to
“I don’t want to talk,” said
Vickers. “I want to listen.”
“Yes, certainly. I am the orle
to do the talking.”
“And not about the reservoirs
of knowledge, of which you ser-
monize most beautifully, but
specific practical, rather mun-
“Like why I am an android
and why Ann Carter is, also.
And whether there ever was a
person named Kathleen Preston
or is that just a story that was
conditioned in my mind? And if
there actually , was a Kathleen
Preston, where is she now? And,
finally, where do I fit in and
now that I’m here what do you
intend to do?”
T^LANDERS nodded his head.
“A very admirable set of
questions. You would pick the
ones I can’t answer.”
“I came to tell you that the
mutants are being hunted down
and killed on that other world,
that the gadget shops are being
wrecked and burned, that the
normal humans' are finally fight-
ing back. I came to warn you
because I thought I was a mu-
tant, too . .
“You are a mutant. I can as-,
sure you, Vickers, you’re a very
special kind of mutant.”
“A mutant android.”
“You are difficult,” said Flan-
ders. “You let your bitterness — ”
“Of course I’m bitter,” Vickers
cut in. “Who wouldn’t be? All
my life I believed I was a man
and now I find I’m not.”
“You fool! You don’t know
what you are!”
RING AROUND THE SUN
H EZEKIAH rapped on the
door and came in with a
tray. He set it on a table and
Vickers saw that there were two
glasses and some mix and an ice
bucket and a fifth of liquor.
“Now,” said Flanders, happily,
“perhaps we can talk some sense.
I don’t know what it is about
the stuff, but put a drink into a
man’s hand and you tend to
He reached into the pocket of
his robe, brought out a pack of
cigarettes and passed them to
Vickers. Vickers took the pack
and saw that his hand was shak-
ing a little as he pulled out a
smoke. He hadn’t realized until
then just how keyed-up he was.
Flanders snapped the lighter
and held out the flame. Vickers
got his light.
“That’s good,” he said. “I ran
out of smokes after the fourth
He sat in the chair, smoking,
thinking how good the tobacco
tasted, feeling the satisfaction
run along his nerves. He watched
Hezekiah busy with the drinks.
“I eavesdropped this morning,”
Vickers said. “I came here and
Hezekiah let me in. I listened
when you and some others were
talking in the room.”
“I know you did,” said Flan-
“How much of that was
“All of it,” said Flanders,
blithely. “Every blessed word of
“You wanted me to know I
was an android?”
“We wanted you to know.”
“You set the mouse on me?”
“We had to do something to
shake you out of your humdrum
life. And the mouse served a
“It tattled on me.”
“Oh, exceedingly well. The
mouse was a most efficient tat-
“The thing that really burns
me,” Vickers said, “is that busi-
ness about making Cliffwood
think I had done you in.”
“We had to get you out of
there and headed back to your
“How did you know where
F LANDERS said, “My friend,
have you ever thought about
the ability of hunch? I don’t
mean the feeble hunch that is
used on the racetrack to pick a
winner or the hunch about
whether it is going to rain or
not, but the ability in the fullness
of its concept. You might say it
is the instinctive ability to assess
the result of a given number of
factors, to know, without actually
thinking the matter out, what is
about to happen.
“It’s almost like being able to
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
peek into the future.”
“Yes,” said Vickers, “I have
thought about it. A good deal in
the last few days, as a matter of
"You have speculated on it?”
“To some extent. But what
has . . .”
“Perhaps," said Flanders, “you
have speculated that it might be
a human ability that we never
developed, that we scarcely knew
was there and so never bothered
with, or that it might be one of
those abilities that it takes a long
time to develop, a sort of an ace-
in-the-hole ability for mankind’s
use when he was ready for it or
might have need of it.”
“I did think that, or at least
some of it, but . . .”
“Now’s the time we need it,”
Flanders interrupted again. “And
that answers the question that
you asked. We hunched you
would go back.”
“At first I thought Crawford
was the one, but he said he
Flanders shook his head.
"Crawford wouldn’t have done
it. He needs you too badly. Your
hunch on that one wasn’t work-
ing too hot.”
“No, I guess it wasn’t.”
“Your hunches don’t work,”
said Flanders, "because you don’t
give them a chance. You still
have the world of reason to con-
tend with. You put your reliance
on the old machinelike reasoning
that the human race has relied
on since it left the caves. You
figure out every angle and you
balance it against every other
angle and you add up and cancel
out as if you were doing a prob-
lem in arithmetic. You never
give hunch a chance. That’s the
trouble with you.”
A ND that was the trouble,
Vickers thought. He'd had
a hunch to spin the top on the
porch of the Preston house. If
he had done that, he’d have
saved himself days of walking
through the wilderness of this
second world to get to this same
spot. He’d had a hunch that he
should have paid attention to
Crawford’s note and not driven
the Forever car. If he’d done
that, he’d have saved himself a
lot of trouble. And there had
been the hunch, which he had
finally obeyed, that he must get
back the top — and that one had
“How much do you know?”
“I don’t really know,” Vickers
admitted. “I know there’s a mu-
tant organization that had some-
thing to do with kicking the
human race out of the rut you
talked about, that night back in
Cliffwood. And the organization
has gone underground because
its operations were getting too
RING AROUND T H E SUN
widespread and too significant
to escape attention. You’ve got
factories working, turning out the
mutant gadgets you’re using to
wreck the economy of the old
world. I saw one of those. Tell
me, do the robots run it or . . .’’
Flanders chuckled. “The robots
run it. We just tell them what
“Then there’s this business of
listening to the stars.”
“We’ve gotten many good
ideas that way,” said Flanders.
“Not all of us can do it. Just
some of us who are natural tele-
paths. And as I told you that
night we talked, not all the ideas
are ones that we can use. Some-
times we just get a hint of some-
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
thing and we go on from there.”
“And where are you headed?
Where do you intend to go?”
“That’s one that I can’t an-
swer. There are new possibilities
being added all the time, new
directions opening out. We’re
close to many great discoveries.
For one thing, immortality.
There is one listener . .
"You mean,” asked Vickers,
O F course, thought Vickers,
why not? If you had ever-
lasting razor blades and ever-
lasting light bulbs, why not
everlasting , life?
“And androids?” Vickers ask-
ed. “Where would an android
like myself fit in? Surely, an an-
droid can’t be too important.”
“We have a job for you,” said
Flanders. “Crawford is your
“What do I do with Craw-
"You stop him.”
“Stop him? Me? Do you know
what’s back of Crawford?”
“I know what’s back of you.”
“Tell me,” Vickers said.
“The highest, most developed
hunch ability that ever has been
registered in a human being. The
highest ever registered and the
most unsuspected, the least used
of any we have ever known.”
“Wait a minute. You’re forget-
ting that I’m not a human being.”
“Once you were. You will be
again. Before we took your life
“Took my life!”
“The life essence,” said Flan-
ders, “the mind, the thoughts
and impressions and reactions
that made up Jay Vickers — the
real Jay Vickers — aged eighteen.
Like pouring water from one ves-
sel to another. We poured you
from your body into an android
body and we’ve kept and guard-
ed your body against the day we
can pour it back again.”
Vickers came half out of his
Flanders waved a hand at him.
“Sit down. You were going to
ask me why.”
“And you’re going to answer
me," said Vickers.
“Certainly I will answer you.
When you were eighteep, you
were not aware of the ability you
had. There was no way to make
you aware of it. It would have
done no good to tell you or to
attempt to train you. You had
to grow into it. We figured it
would take fifteen years, but it
took more than twenty and you
aren’t even yet as aware as you
“But I could have . . .”
“Yes,” said Flanders, “you
could have grown aware of it in
your own body, except that there
is another factor — inherent mem-
RING AROUND THE SUN
ory. Your genes carry the in-
herent memory factor, another
mutation that occurs as infre-
quently as our telepathic listen-
ers. Before Jay Vickers started
fathering children, we wanted
him to be entirely aware of his
Vickers remembered how he
had speculated on the possibility
of inherent memory, white lying
on the corn-shuck mattress in
the loft of Andrews’ house. In-
herent memory, memory passed
on from father to son. His father
had known about inherent mem-
ory, so he had guessed it, too.
He had known about it, or at
least he’d remembered it when
the time had come for him to
know about it, when he was
growing — he groped for the word
“So that is it,” said Vickers.
“You want me to put the hunch
on Crawford and my children
because they will have hunch,
INLANDERS nodded. “I think
*■ we understand one another.”
“Yes,” said Vickers. “I am
sure we do. First of all, you want
me to stop Crawford. That is
quite an order. What if I put a
price on it?”
“We have a price. A most at-
tractive price. I think it will
“You asked about Kathleen
Preston. You wanted to know
if there was such a person and
I can tell that there is. How old
were you when you knew her,
by the way?”
Flanders nodded idly. “A very
fine age to be.” He looked at
Vickers. “Don’t you agree?"
“It seemed so then.”
“You were in love with her.”
“And she was in love with
“I think so,” Vickers said. “I
can’t be sure, but I think she
“You may be assured that she
was in love with you.”
“You will tell me where she
“No,” said Flanders.
“But you . . .”
“When your job is done, you’ll
go back to eighteen again."
“And that’s the price,” said
Vickers. “That’s the pay I get.
To be given back a body that
was mine to start with. To be
“It is attractive to you?”
“Yes, I guess so," Vickers said.
“But don’t you see, Flanders,
the dream of eighteen is gone.
It’s not just the physical eighteen
— it’s the years ahead and the
promise of those years and the
wild, impractical dreaming and
the love that walks beside you
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
in the spring of life.”
“Eighteen,” said Flanders.
"Eighteen and immortality and
Kathleen Preston, herself seven-
“Just as it was before,” said
Vickers. “But it won’t be the
same, Flanders. Something that
has slipped away.”
“Just as it was before,” in-
sisted Flanders. “As if all these
years had never been.”
S O he was a mutant, after all,
in the guise of android, and
once he had stopped Crawford,
he’d be an eighteen-year-old mu-
tant in love with a seventeen -
year-old mutant and there was
just a possibility that, before they
died, the listener might pin down
immortality. And if that were
so, then he and Kathleen would
walk enchanted valleys forever
and they’d have mutant children
and all of them would live a life
such as the old pagan gods of
Earth might have looked upon
He threw back the covers and
got out of bed and walked to
the window. Standing there, he
stated down at the moonlit en-
chanted valley where he’d walked
that day of long ago and he saw
that the valley was an empty
place and would stay empty no
matter what he did.
He had carried the dream for
more than twenty years and now
that the dream was coming true,
he saw that it was tarnished with
all the time between, that there
was no going back to that day
in 1956, that a man never can
go back to a thing he once has
You could not wipe out the
years of living, pile them neatly
in a comer and walk away and
leave them. They could be erased
from your mind and they would
be forgotten, but not forever, and
the day would come when they’d
break through again. And once
they’d found you out, you’d
know that you had lived not one
lie, but two.
That was the trouble, you
couldn’t hide away the past.
The door creaked open and
Vickers turned around.
Hezekiah stood in the door-
way, the dim light from the land-
ing sparkling on his metal hide.
“You cannot sleep?” asked
Hezekiah. “Perhaps there’s some-
thing I can do. A sleeping pow-
der, perhaps, or . .
“There is something you can
do,” said Vickers. “There’s a
record that I want to see.”
“A record, sir?”.
“My family record. You must
have it here somewhere.”
“In the files, sir. I can get it
RING AROUND THE SUN
right away, if you will wait.”
“And the Preston file as well,”
added Vickers. “The Preston
“Yes, sir,” said Hezekiah. “It
will take a moment.”
\^ICKERS turned on the light
" and sat down on the edge
of the bed and he knew what he
had to do.
The enchanted valley was an
empty place. The moonlight
shattering on the whiteness of
the pillar was a memory without
life or color. The rose-scent upon
the long- gone night of June had
blown away with the wind of
“Ann,” he said, “I’ve been a
fool too long. What about it,
Ann? We’ve bantered and quar-
reled and we’ve used the banter-
ing and the quarreling to cover
the love that both of us have
held. If it hadn’t been for me
and my dreaming of a valley, the
dream growing cold and my
never knowing it, we would have
known long ago the way it was
They took from us, he thought,
the birthright that was ours of
living out our lives in the bodies
in which we first knew the world.
They’ve made of us neither man
nor woman, but something that
passes for a man and woman
and we walk through the streets
of life like shadows flickering
down the wall. And now they
would take from us the dignity
of death and the realization that
our task was done and they make
us live a lie — I an android pow-
ered by the life-force of a man
that is not myself, and you alive
with a life that is not your own.
“To hell with them,” he said.
“To hell with all this double
living, with this being a manu-
He’d go back to Earth and
find Ann Carter and he’d tell her
that he loved her, not as one
loved a moonlight - and - roses
memory, but as a man and wo-
man love. Together, they would
live out what was left to them
of life. He would write his books
and she would go on with her
work and they’d forget, as best
they could, this matter of the
He listened to the little mur-
murings of a house at night,
unnoticed in the daytime when
it is filled with human sounds.
And he thought the record. would
not tell the tale that he wished
to know, would not tell all the
truth that he hoped to find, but
it would tell him who he’d been
and sorrtething about that tattered
farmer and his, wife who had
been his father and his mother.
T HE door opened and Heze-
kiah pattered in, with a folder
tucked beneath his arm. He
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
handed the folder to Vickers and
stood to one side, waiting.
Vickers opened it with trem-
bling fingers and it was there
upon the page.
Vickers, Jay, b. Aug. 5, 1937,
l.t. June 20, 1956, h.a., t., i.m.,
He studied the line and it
made no sense.
“What does all this mean?”
“To what do you refer, sir?”
“This line here,” said Vickers,
pointing. “This l.t. business and
the rest of it.”
Hezekiah bent and translated:
“Jay Vickers, born August 5,
1937, life transferred June 20,
1956, hunch ability, time sense,
inherent memory, latent muta-
tion. Meaning, sir, that you are
‘’Thank you,” said Vickers.
“A pleasure, sir.”
He glanced at the line above
and there he found the names,
placed on the bracketed lines that
indicated marriage, from which
the line bearing his own name
Charles Vickers, b. Jan. 10,
1907, cont. Aug. 8, 1928, aw., t.,
el., i.m., s.a. Feb. 6, 1961.
Sarah Graham, b. Apr. 16,
1910, cont. Sept. 12, 1927, aw.,
ind. comm., t., i.m., s.a. Mar. 9,
His parents. Two paragraphs
of symbols. He tried to make it
“Charles Vickers, born January
10, 1907, continued? No, that
wouldn’t be right . .
“Contacted, sir,” said Heze-
“Contacted August 8, 1928,
aware, t., el. What’s that?”
“Time sense and electronics,
“The other worlds. They are
a matter of time, you know.”
“No, I didn’t know. Would
you explain it, please?”'
“There is no time,” said Heze-
kiah. “Not as the normal human
thinks of time, that is. Not a
continuous flow of time, but
brackets of time, one second fol-
lowing behind the other. Although
there are no seconds, no such
things as seconds, no such mea-
surement, of course.”
“That’s right,” said Vickers.
It all came back to him, the
explanation of those other worlds,
the following worlds, each one
encapsulated in a moment of
time, in some strange and arbi-
trary division of time, each time
bracket with its own world, how
far back, how far ahead, no one
could know or guess.
S OMEWHERE inside him, the
secret trigger had been tripped
and the inherent memory was
his, as it always had been his,
RING AROUND THE SUN
but hidden in his unawareness,
as his hunch ability still was.
There was no time, Hezekiah
had said. No such thing as time
in the terms of normal human
thought. Time was bracketed
and each of its brackets contained
a single phase of a universe so
vastly beyond human compre-
hension that it brought a man
up short against the impossibility
of envisioning it.
And time itself? Time was
a never-ending medium that
stretched into the future and the
past — except there was no future
and no past, but an infinite num-
ber of brackets, extending either
way, each bracket enclosing its
single phase of the Universe.
Back on Man’s original Earth,
there had been speculation on
traveling in time, of going back
into yesterday or forward into
tomorrow. And now he knew that
you could not do it, that the
same instant of time remained
forever within each bracket, that
Man’s Earth had ridden the same
bubble of the single instant from
the time of its genesis and that
it would die and come to noth-
ing within that self-same instant.
You could travel in time, but
there would be no yesterday and
no tomorrow. If you held a cer-
tain time sense, you could break
out from one bracket to another,
and when you did, you would
not find yesterday or tomorrow.
but another world.
And that was what he had done
when he had spun the top, ex-
cept, of course, that the top had
had nothing to do with it. It
had simply been an aid.
He went on with the line.
“What is s.a., Hezekiah?”
“Suspended animation, sir.”
“My father and my mother?”
“Waiting for the day when the
mutants finally achieve immor-
“But they died, Hezekiah!”
“They would have died if they
had been allowed to live. When
there is that danger, mutants are
kept in suspended animation un-
til immortality becomes possi-
The room was bright and cold
and naked with the monstrous
nakedness of truth.
His mother and his father
waited in suspended animation
for the day they could have im-
And he, Jay Vickers, the real
Jay Vickers, what of him? Not
suspended animation, certainly,
for the life was gone from the
real Jay Vickers and was in this
android body that sat in this
room holding the family record
in two android hands.
“Kathleen Preston?” Vickers
Hezekiah shook his head. “I
do not know about her, sir.”
“But you got the Preston
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
Hezekiah shook his head again.
“I searched the cross-index, sir.
There is no Preston mentioned.
No Preston anywhere.”
H E had made a decision and
now the decision was no
good — made impossible by the
memory of two faces. He closed
his eyes and remembered his
mother, every feature, a little
idealized, perhaps, but mainly
true, and he recalled how she
had been horrified by his adven-
ture into fairyland and how Pa
talked to him and how the top
Of course the top had disap-
peared. Of course he had been
lectured about too much imagi-
nation. After all, they probably
had a hard enough time keeping
an eye on him and knowing
where he was without his wan-
dering into other worlds. An
eight-year-old would be hard
enough to keep track of on one
world, let alone all the others.
The memory of his mother’s
face and of his father’s hand upon
his shoulder, with the fingers
digging into his flesh with a man-
ly tenderness — these were things
no one could turn his back upon.
In utter faith they waited,
knowing that when the blackness
came upon them, it would not
be the end, but the beginning of
an even greater adventure in liv-
ing than they had hoped when
they banded themselves with the
little group of mutants so many
If they held such faith in the
mutant plan, could his be any
Could he refuse to do his part
toward the establishment of that
world for which they had done
They themselves had given
what they could. The labor they
had expended, the faith they had
lavished must now be brought
to realization by the ones they
had left behind. He was one of
those — and he knew he could mot
What kind of world? He
thought he knew.
An immortal world that had
all the factors necessary to make
immortality workable — endless
economic living room, endless
opportunity, endless challenges
to the best efforts of one’s being.
Endless living room there was,
even if one took only Earth into
account, for there now lay open
to Man’s possession that endless
ring around the Sun.
But there also would be the
Galaxy, with all its solar sys-
tems, and each of these solar
systems would have its following
worlds as well. Take all the
planets that there were and mul-
RING AROUND THE SUN
tiply them by infinity and you
got a rough idea.
Each world would be an op-
portunity and new techniques
and new sciences would add to
opportunity, so that Man, even
eternal Man, need never fear the
lack of opportunity or of chal-
O NCE you had immortality,
what did you us^ it for?
You used it to keep up your
strength. Even if your tribe were
small, even if the birth rate were
not large, even if new members
of the tribe were discovered but
infrequently, you still would be
sure of growth if no one ever
You used it to conserve ability
and knowledge. If no one ever
died, you could count on the
ultimate strength and knowledge
and ability of each member of
the tribe. When a man died, his
ability died with him and, to
some extent, his knowledge. Yet
it wasn’t only that. You lost not
only his present ability and
knowledge, but all his future
ability and knowledge.
What knowledge, Vickers won-
dered, did the Earth now lack
because certain persons died a
dozen years too soon? Some of
the knowledge, of course, would
be recovered through the later
work of others, but certainly
there was much that could never
be recovered, ideas that would
not be dreamed again, concepts
that were blotted out forever by
the death of a brain in which the
first faint stirring of their de-
velopment had just begun to
Within an immortal society,
such a thing could never happen.
An immortal society would be
certain of total ability and total
knowledge of its manpower.
Take the ability to tap the
knowledge of the stars, take in-
herent memory, the technical
knowledge that made everlasting
merchandise and add immor-
That was the formula — of
what? Of the ultimate in life?
Of the pinnacle of intellect? Of
Go back a hundred thousand
years. Consider the creature,
Man. Give him fire, the wheel,
the bow and arrow, domesticated
animals and plants, plus tribal
organization and the first, faint
dawning concept of Man as the
lord of Earth. Take that formula
and what did you have?
The beginning of civilization,
the foundation of a human cul-
The formula of the mutants,
he knew, was simply another step
upward as the fire-wheel-dog
formula of a hundred thousand
years before had been an earlier
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
The mutant formula was not
the end result of human effort
nor of human intellect and know-
ledge; it was but a step. Within
the human mind still dwelled the
possibility of even greater steps,
but what the concepts of those
steps might be was as incon-
ceivable to him as the time
structure of the following worlds
would have been to the man who
discovered fire or tamed the dog.
YV/'E still are savages, he
™ thought. We ^till crouch
within our cave, staring out be-
yond the smoky fire that guards
the entrance of our cave against
the illimitable darkness that lies
upon the world.
Someday we’ll plumb that
darkness, but not yet.
Immortality would be a tool
that might help us plumb that
darkness and that is all it is, a
simple, ordinary tool.
What was the darkness out
beyond the cave’s mouth?
Man’s ignorance of what he
was or why he was or how he
came to be and what his purpose
and his end. The old, eternal
Perhaps with the tool of im-
mortality Man could track down
these questions, could gain an
understanding of the orderly pro-
gression and the awful logic
which fashioned and moved the
Universe of matter and of energy.
The next step might be a
spiritual one, the finding and un-
derstanding of a divine pattern
that was law unto the entire
Universe. Might Man find at last,
in all humility, a universal God
— the Deity that men now wor-
shiped with the faintness of hu-
man understanding and the
strength of human faith? Would
Man find at last the concept of
divinity that would fill, without
question and without quibble,
Man’s terrible need of faith, so
clear and unmistakable that
there could be no question and
no doubt; a concept of goodness
and of love with which Man
could so identify himself that
there would then be no need of
I’VE GOT THEM ALLM-EVERY ONE!!
All the science fiction, fnntasy. weird, and supernatural books in print in America or
England I I can supply anything you see mentioned, listed or offered anywhere! Send 10c
for my new Giant Printed Checklist of over 1000 titles, including over 250 pnperbound
books at 26c each up. Or. if you are nearby N.Y.C., visit me at my home iiust two miles
from N.Y.C. line) which is literally crammed with thousands of back issue magazines and
used books in addition to the largest variety of new books of this kind in the world. Phone
meat Floral Pa^k 2-6800, iyou can dial it), and I’ll gladly furnish directions to get here.
FRANK A. SCHMID
42 Sherwood Avenue Franklin Square, L. I„ N. Y.
RING AROUND THE SUN
faith, but faith replaced with
knowing and an everlasting sure-
And if Man outlawed death, he
thought, if the doorway of death
is closed against the final revela-
tion and the resurrection, then
surely Man must find such a
concept or wander forever amid
the galaxies a lost and crying
“Hezekiah,” said Jay Vickers,
‘‘you are sure?”
“Of what, sir?”
“About the Prestons. You are
sure there are none?”
“Positive, sir. None whatever.”
“There was a Kathleen Pres-
ton,” Vickers said. “I am sure
But how could he be so sure?
For one thing, he remembered
her. For another, Flanders said
there was no such a person.
But his memory could be con-
ditioned and so could Flanders’.
Kathleen Preston could be no
more than an emotional factor
designed to bind him to this
house, a keyed-in response that
would not let him forget, no mat-
ter where he went or what he
might become, this house and the
ties it held for him.
“Hezekiah, who is Horton
Flanders?” Vickers asked.
“Horton Flanders,” said the
robot, “is an android, just the
same as you.”
—CLIFFORD D. SIMAK
CONCLUDED NEXT MONTH
Next month, Clifford D. Simok's RING AROUND THE SUN ends in a flare
of brilliant ingenuity that will probably leave a permanent after-image
on your mental retina. One question you may find yourself pondering: If
you're not yourself, who is?
Damon Knight returns with FOUR IN ONE, which is startling enough to
excuse his long absence. Its premise seems harmless— a scientist becomes
absorbed in his work— but wait till you see what Knight does with that
WATCHBIRD by Robert Sheckley solves a problem as old as Cain.
Strange, though, how getting rid of one problem often creates another,
usually worse than the first.
Short stories? Willy Ley? Our regular features? Of course!
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION
^ Jcu Gan Influence Others
With Your Thinking !
HTry it some time, Concentrate intently
upon another person seated in a
room with you, without his noticing it.
Observe him gradually become restless
and finally turn and look in your dircc-
tion. Simple — yet it is a positive dem -
onstration that thought generates a
mental energy which can be projected
from your mind to the consciousness
of another. Do you realize how much
of your success and happiness in life
depend upon your influencing others?
Is it not important to you to have
others understand your point of view —
to be receptive to your proposals?
How many times have you wished
Hr there were some way you could impress
another favorably — get across to him
(!■ or her your ideas ? That thoughts can
be transmitted, received, and under'
stood by others is now scientifically
demonstrable. The tales of miraculous
accomplishments of mind by the an*
t cicnts are now known to be fact — not
fable. The method whereby these things
can be intentionally. not accidentally,
ttr, accomplished has been a secret long
cherished by the Rosicrucians — one of
the schools of ancient wisdom existing
throughout the world. To thousands
everywhere, for centuries, the Rosi cru-
cians have privately taught this nearly-
lost art of the practical use of mind
This Free Book Points
Out the Way
The Rosicrucians (not a religious or-
ganization) invite you to explore the
powers of your mind. Their sensible,
simple suggestions have caused intelli-
gent men and women to soar to new
heights of accomplishment. They will
show you how to use your natural
forces and talents to do things you now
think are beyond your ability. Send
for a copy of the fascinating sealed free
book, “The Mastery of Life," which
explains how you may receive this
unique wisdom and benefit by its appli-
cation to your daily affairs. Address
your request to: Scribe: O.H.Y.
San Jose, California. U. S. A.
SEEDS DF LIFE
By JLJHN TAINE ''' W
"SEEDS OF LIFE is Science fiction of a high order, a novel involv-
ing believable people in unusual situations.
T HOUGHT of the atomic bomb and what exposure to its radia-
tions might do has excited the imagination of thinking men
and women everywhere.
"John Taine" (who is Dr. E. T. Bell of the California Institute '
of Technology) has permitted his imagination to investigate some
of the possibilities in a similar fascinating theme. This is not a
stojy involving, the atomic bomb, however. Atomic energy is part
of the story, but only an incidental part, as are such unlikely*
ingredients as a black widow spider, a two-million volt X-ray
tube, chicken eggs which hatch out reptilian monsters, and other
equally strange plot threads. Dr. Bell has again displayed his
usual ability to write about the unusual.
When Dr. Andrew Crane of the Erickson Foundation tries to
make a man of Neils Bork, his laboratory assistant, he succeeds
in a spectacular manner. Berk himself contributes to the end
result in his bungling way, and there emerges Miguel De Soto, a
superman in every sense of the word. His rate of thinking and
perceiving has accelerated many thousand times beyond that of
any human being who has ever' lived. He is a partial, accidental
anticipation of the race man may be destined to become in the
SEEDS OF LIFE is written in the smoothly entertaining style
which characterizes all of Dr. Bell's work, including such well-
known books as ''The Magic Numbers," ''The Forbidden Garden,"
"The Iron Star," "Before the Dawn," "Mathematics, Queen and
Servant of Science," and his many "John Taine" science novels.
And it is adult reading fare, realistic, gripping and informative.
Above all it is good entertainment.
AT YOUR NEWSSTAND